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, February 24, 2020

The passing of a legend

How the death of Peter Otai and the response of government of Uganda reflect our political maturity

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On January 1st this year Peter Otai, the former minister of state for defense in the second Milton Obote government, died in London. On January 25th, a memory service in his honor was held in London. Then his body was flown to Uganda for burial in his ancestral home in Soroti on Febuary 1st. His family had initially refused to bring it to Uganda. I am reliably informed they yielded to his wish to be buried next to his mother. His life, death and burial tell a powerful story about the political development of Uganda, the personality of President Yoweri Museveni and especially the intricate connections of its political leaders.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Uganda’s politics of fiction

How political competition in our country is conducted on wild promises based on imaginary state capabilities

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | We are entering an election season and many things are going to go wrong in this country. President Yoweri Museveni will not initiate anything serious fearing its implications on voters. But he will enter a spending binge where loads of cash will be given to individuals and groups that he knows represent particular voter segments. So the State House budget is going to be huge next financial year. Then we are going to hear a lot of rhetoric from opposition politicians promising to build bridges where no rivers exist. To counter them Museveni too will make many wild promises.

Monday, February 10, 2020

GDP and improved health

How sustained economic growth influences health through nutrition and better living conditions

 THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In this column last week I argued that economic growth, in spite of its many limitations, remains the most important driver of improved wellbeing. A key measure of wellbeing is increased life expectancy at birth. People who feed poorly and live in horrible conditions are prone to diseases and would, therefore, die young. Infant/child mortality has the biggest impact on life expectancy. For instance, life expectancy at birth in Uganda is about 65 years, compared to Japan at 84.5 years. But life expectancy at 15 years in Uganda could be nearer that of Japan. This shows that after overcoming the health challenges of early childhood, most people live longer.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Why economic growth matters

Evidence of how GDP growth has led to improved wellbeing of the majority of Ugandans

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Critics have been accusing me of being simplistic by focusing on economic growth as a major success of President Yoweri Museveni’s administration. Uganda has sustained an average annual rate of growth of nearly 7% over the last 34 years. Some argue that the country could have done better by comparing us to China, which had a growth marathon of over 10% per year between 1978 and 2008. Yet China is different from Uganda; especially when we look at factors that drive rapid growth such as a shared national consciousness (leading to high levels of trust), the existence of a strong state, high levels of human capital, diffusion of technology, and access to the sea and proximity to large markets.