Recently, Uganda, Tanzania, and Total S.A., the French oil major, signed three agreements to finalize the development of an oil pipeline from Uganda’s oil fields to Tanga on the Tanzanian coast.
Many economists assert that the signing takes Uganda closer to a final investment decision or project sanctioning by the oil firms. However, there are major concerns over this project on the environment. Many Ugandans appreciate the role trees play in both the natural economy and in ecology maintenance.
Trees provide products such as wood and others. Forests also play roles such as rainfall formation, soil fertility maintenance, carbon capture and others. Nature-dependent communities and economies such as Uganda need forests to survive.
However, oil infrastructure projects directly and indirectly affect the conservation of forests and forest landscapes such as Budongo, Bugoma, Taala, Wambabya, Murchison Falls national park (MFNP) and others. They cross river bodies.
The unfortunate part is that adequate information on the value of forests and forest landscapes including the value of below-ground flora and fauna isn’t provided in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) reports to enable clear understanding of the full value of forest resources that stand to be destroyed.
When sustainably used, forestry resources are renewable and can serve generations of Ugandans. However, oil and gas resources are exhaustible. We the people of Uganda do not hate development but it is time to be committed to supporting Uganda and Tanzania to be leaders of the 21st century transition to clean renewable energy while promoting green economic activities.
Let’s not live a life of fantasy and illusions with the belief that oil will solve all our problems. It will not.
Focus budget to support businesses
As government prepares to unveil the 2021/2022 budget in June, the country is faced with many challenges. This also comes at a time when we are just fresh from a general election, which had adverse effects on several sectors of the economy.
As we get into the new financial year, government should prioritize helping sectors that have been greatly affected by the pandemic because these are the ones who end up paying a lot of taxes in the long run.
The government should offer stimulus packages to these sectors, especially through enabling them access cheap funds through the Uganda Development Bank. Unfortunately what is worrying at this point in time is that a lot of concentration has been put on other sectors such as security, which have had their budgets doubled.
The way forward for this country after these turbulent times is to support the crippled sectors, which have been greatly affected. The other option on how to support the economic recovery is to limit on the importation of products. These will enable our local investors to compete favorably.
Kenya has already done this, where several associations have reportedly tasked their government to restrict on the importation of produce such as poultry and dairy products.
The need to push the East African market agenda has to be reviewed during these times simply because Ugandans are now losing out in the long run. Most of the Ugandan products are finding it hard to access the East African market
on the disguise of quality issues.
In reality, however, East African member states are restraining imports in order to enable their local investors to compete favourably.
Protect children from cyber abuse
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the need to transfer information between persons due to limitations of movement so as to avoid the spread of the disease.
It also led to the closure of educational institutions and as such children have been automatically switched to online learning, which a number of schools in Uganda have now embraced.
While the Internet can bring considerable benefits to children’s education and development, it also exposes them to online risks such as access to inappropriate content, abusive interaction with others, exposure to aggressive marketing practices and privacy risks.
Parents should do the following to protect children left using the internet: provide awareness training to children and their caregivers; frequently check and monitor internet usage by children through browser history; block unsafe sites to deter children from accessing them; know the children’s passwords; limit the children’s online activity; activate privacy setting on the children’s browser.
Cyber bullying is also a common occurrence to children/teens using the internet and as such parents should watch out on change of behaviour of the children, isolation, depression and fear.
James Paul Kakembo,
Uganda must fight crime
While the cause of crime rates in Uganda is complex, some of the key reasons are poverty, the greed for money, envy, anger, vengeance, decay of family values, mental illness, alcoholism, poor healthcare, teenage pregnancy and parental neglect, just to mention a few.
Increased crimes are due to a large population of young but educated youth who have been poisoned by the political and education system that make them look at government as the only provider of jobs. This is wrong.
As a result, a large number of unemployed youth lack what to do, which has increased crimes such as robbery, rape, etc.
According to research, the urban areas have more crimes than the rural areas. This is because of the high population of unemployed and redundant people in urban areas.
What can be done to reduce the crime rates?
We should put in place a community policing strategy to prevent crime. The government should put in place a countrywide strategy to curb down crimes in all districts by improving surveillance around homes and public spaces.
Parents should also give a hand in preventing these crimes by taking care of their children and instill in them good morals.
In schools, the parents should set clear rules and limits for their children; teachers should form clubs concerning good morals in schools.
To fight the problem of unemployment, the relevant ministries under the umbrella of the government should provide employment opportunities for the youth.