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, October 24, 2016

France’s war against Rwanda

What the war between Paris and Kigali over Habyarimana’s death tells us about the two nations

Once again France and Rwanda are locking horns over who killed that nation’s former genocidal president, Juvenal Habyarimana. I have followed this debate for 15 years and every time it rears its ugly head I am intrigued by French arrogance in expressing power over a small, poor country. I am also comforted by Rwanda’s sense of its honour and dignity in the face of extreme provocation by a superpower. This shows that France has so much power but very little leadership.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Uganda’s stalled transformation

 Why Museveni has not transformed agricultural Uganda into an industrial economy and what can be done

President Yoweri Museveni’s stated objective is to transform Uganda from an agrarian to an industrial nation. He has been in power for 30 years, the period South Korea took to achieve that goal. Yet 80% of Ugandans still depend on agriculture for a livelihood; 68% as subsistence farmers. It seems realistic to blame Museveni for this as I used to do when I was still young and intelligent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Africa and the myths of FDI

Why foreign direct investment is overrated and why Africa needs to cultivate local businesses

There is a fad in Africa. It is called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Across our vast continent, foreign investors are the most treasured visitors. Practically every country is obsessed with attracting them, often ignoring local investors. An African president will readily give audience to foreign investors where local investors take months or years to see him. FDI easily negotiates generous tax exemptions, government subsidies, etc. which local investors rarely get. And it gets other generous terms such as the right to 100% ownership of the enterprise and 100% profit repatriation.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Besigye’s coalition of the intolerant

While NRM is a corrupt government, FDC has evolved into an extremist antidemocratic party

Most commentary on politics in Africa tends to revolve around the analysis of the actions and motivations of incumbents in power. A narrative has consolidated: those in power in Africa seek power for selfish motives. Public service is never a part of their calculus. This is not an entirely wrong analysis. But it is an overly simplistic one. Public and private interests are not always mutually exclusive. The pursuit of private interests often forces politicians to articulate public objectives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reality behind `greed’ of MPs

Why criticising MPs for demanding more benefits is misguided and what can be done about it
Our MPs want Shs200 million each to buy cars. They want their wages and allowances increased. They also want Shs68 million spent on their funeral when they die. The public is angry. What more evidence does one need to confirm that our MPs are indeed greedy?

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.