About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Monday, July 18, 2016

America’s war on its black citizens

Slavery in America may have ended but the US state has reproduced it through mass incarceration of blacks and police violence in poor black communities due to its hidden economic gains

Recent events in the United States; where police shot and killed two black men in cold blood may have dominated the news but they are actually normal and regular. What was unusual was a lone black man who decided to take matters into his hands and strike back at America’s institutionalised system of racial subjugation and violence, killing five police officers and injuring seven more. Since then, there has been more outpouring of sympathy for the police, including from President Barack Obama, than to the daily victims of police terror.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Uganda’s economic growth dilemma

Why our country remains poor with high unemployment in spite of 28 years of huge expansion in GDP

Last week, I spent an entire day at Uganda Bureau of Statistics crunching numbers with the staff on our GPD growth between 1986 and 2014. There is only one route for nations to grow rich: sustained economic growth over a very long period of time. Economics and statisticians use “The Rule of 72”. It states that if an economy (or anything under measurement for that matter) grew at 1% per year, it would double every 72 years. However, if anything grew at 7% per year, it would double every ten years.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A tale of two roundabouts

Why the story of Rwanda’s economic success keeps being juxtaposed with human rights abuses

Last week I was in Kigali, Rwanda, after only two weeks of absence. Driving from the airport to the city, I found two new roundabouts near the new Convention Center complex. On my right was a 400 meters long boulevard leading to presidents’ office. My Rwandan friends told me that they too woke up one Saturday morning only to find this infrastructure in place – built over one night. It is an incredible feat these Rwandans have pulled off in their preparations to host the African Union Heads of State summit this July. Kampala Capital City Authority has spent the last six months trying to fix the roundabout at Fairway Hotel.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Against public education, health

Why obsession with investment in mass public education and health in poor countries could be less optimal policy

Let me articulate a heresy. I am increasingly suspicious of the obsession by governments in poor countries to invest in “education and healthcare for all” as a strategy to combat poverty. This is not to say health and education do not matter in reducing poverty or its effects. There are economic benefits and welfare dividends that come from a healthy and educated citizenry. But these benefits can be realised without the state being a provider or even financier (as I used to argue) of such services. These can, and should, be funded by families, religious institutions and other charitable bodies.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beyond national politics, policies

Why good leadership at a national level is not enough to make a country successful economically

Let us do a thought experiment. It is often said that the problem of Africa is poor leadership: if our continent had leaders dedicated to serving their people rather than lining their pockets, then our problems of poverty, conflict, misery etc. would end. Even the god of African elites, Barak Obama, made this claim in Addis Ababa when he last visited our continent. This slogan has been repeated so many times that it has acquired the status of divine truth.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Peep into Kadaga’s experience

What the uproar about her visit to a shrine tells us about the crisis of post-colonial Africa

Rebecca Kadaga caused uproar when she visited a traditional shrine to thank the spirits of her ancestors for her election as Speaker of Parliament. Every pundit of any heft was in the mass media denouncing her for indulging in “devil worship”. The uproar only reaffirmed the tight hold colonialism has on our minds. Assuming Kadaga had gone to church for a thanksgiving service to honor Jesus Christ for her election, who would have complained?

Monday, June 6, 2016

The shutdown of Entebbe Road

The triumph of security over politics in Museveni’s quest to contain Besigye’s defiance

From Saturday, May 28 to June 03, Uganda has been a host of two visiting dignitaries – Presidents Park Geun-hye of South Korea and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. For most of the entire week, the road to Entebbe International Airport has been literally closed to over 254,000 people who use it daily. Motorists were forced to use bad dirty roads. Consequently, tens of thousands of motorists were stuck in traffic or mud in these narrow roads causing airlines to fly back almost empty.