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, September 19, 2016

Rethinking infrastructure contracts

Why East African governments need to involve local firms in big infrastructure projects
The East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda are involved in massive investments in infrastructure. They are contracting companies to build roads, railways, bridges, airports, seaports, dams, electricity lines, oil pipelines, refineries, water systems, etc. Between 2010 and 2020, the value of these contracts exceeds $100 billion in nominal dollars. Our nations have never seen anything like this before. Given that the combined nominal GDP of these countries is $145 billion, this is big business.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The dilemma Africa faces

The postcolonial state needs to transform not replicate existing social arrangements

Lately, I have been thinking about the postcolonial state inAfrica, and this column reflects these growing thoughts. Why do our states and their political leaders fail to do the things we expect of them? We need to stop regurgitating wornout statements that the state inAfrica is dysfunctional and its leaders are greedy and selfish. Africa has witnessed 278 changes of governments and their leaders over the last 50 years without any fundamental change in the governance strategies by successor governments and leaders – perhaps with the sole exception of post-genocide Rwanda. It would be more profitable to examine the structural circumstances that make these governance strategies obdurate.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Crisis of Africa’s postcolonial state

Danger of expecting leaders of poor African countries to govern like the rich

Imagine a romantic relationship between a poor young guy and a demanding girlfriend. They live in a community with former school and classmates all of whom are rich kids living in posh neighborhoods, driving fancy cars, wearing designer clothes, taking holidays in the Bahamas, dining at exclusive restaurants and buying expensive gifts for their girlfriends. The poor guy finds himself under peer pressure to live like the rich colleagues; and his girlfriend desires and demands that they keep up to the standards.

Monday, August 29, 2016

America’s harmful threats

Why U.S. resistance to the proposed ban on second hand clothes is a danger to our future prosperity

On August 17, Daily Monitor published an article titled “US envoy warns on ban of second hand clothes.”  The U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac, made the warning during a “courtesy call” on our Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga. Malac warned that a ban on second hand clothes would jeopardise Uganda’s benefits from AGOA. Never mind that this decision was adopted by regional heads of state as part of the East African Industrialisation Policy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Inside the war against Kayihura

How the opposition has been joined by elements inside government to fight the IGP and the risks it poses
Over the last few weeks, the police and its Inspector General Kale Kayihura have been in the eye of the storm. The opposition see Kayihura, and correctly so, as the biggest stumbling block in their pursuit of power. He has tenaciously blocked their rallies and riots. So they want him removed. They have successfully used social media to demonise him.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Weapons of the poor

How per capita revenues and per capita spending influence governance strategies of nations

How do you govern a country that has average public spending per capita of $450 annually in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)? Is it possible to govern it using the same strategies as a country whose public spending is $22,000 per person annually? Yet all debate on governance today assumes exactly that. I have grown suspicious of this belief in large part because when one studies the governance strategies of today’s rich nations when they had the same per capita spending as today’s poor countries they look quite similar.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Uganda’s much-discussed bailout

How to help distressed companies without removing the risk from lenders and borrowers
On March 31 2016, the total value of all loans in Uganda’s commercial banking industry was Shs21.7 trillion of which Shs528 billion were non-performing loans (or “bad loans”) i.e. 2.64% of the total. Under the effective oversight of Bank of Uganda, especially its director for supervision; Justine Bagyenda (known in the industry as Uganda’s Iron Lady), non-performing loans have averaged 1.7% over the last 10 years. Although there was deterioration, it was a far cry from the 17% non-performing loans in 1996.