Over the Easter, I had the opportunity of visiting the neighboring country of Kenya – Uganda. Emerging from its troubled political past, Uganda has transformed itself into a relatively stable and prosperous nation in Africa. Indeed, this small country has many great things to boast about – it is home to the tallest mountain range in Africa, the source that feeds the world’s longest river and the continent’s largest lake.
Since its independence from Britain in the 1962, Uganda had endured a military coup, brutal dictatorship and many years of war and political unrest. Despite the many years of terror and bloodshed, Ugandans remain one of the most positive and spirited people in the world. In recent years, the country has been experiencing consistent economic growth. With much of the economy remaining in agricultural sector, Uganda exports large amount of coffee, fish, sugar, cotton and tea. Uganda has also been regarded as one of the success stories in HIV reduction within Africa. Through swift promotion of AIDS awareness and safe sex, Uganda was able to reduce its infection rate of approximately 25% in the late 1980s to 4% in early 2000’s.
Despite its recent prosperity Uganda remains as one of the poorest countries in the world. More than one-third of the population is known to live below the poverty line, particularly in rural areas of Uganda. Moreover, Transparency International has rated Uganda’s public sector as one of the most corrupt in the world (139th out of 168 countries surveyed). Widespread criticism has also been made in relation to Ugandan parliamentarians earning more than 60 folds of salaries in those of the state.
In the next few issues, allow me to take you on an adventure to Uganda visiting the rural villages of the north, sightseeing into the work of one of the largest NGO’s in the country and exploring the dynamic capital Kampala. Uganda – the pearl of Africa – here we come!