Uganda was self-reliant in 1962 and is perhaps best known for Idi Amin and later for the Lord´s Resistance Army (LRA) and Joseph Kony. But despite what the country is known for, Uganda is a country marked by optimism and progress.
With Yoweri Museveni as president, Uganda has had economic progress for over two decades, the country has managed to counter the spread of HIV and AIDS and most of the country has been peaceful. But Museveni is criticized for the fact that economic growth has far too little benefit to the grassroots and that he does not appear to be willing to give up power. He has served as president since 1986. In addition, our civil war in the north of the country has been around since Museveni came to power, a war that the current government has not been able to, or had the will to stop.
The opposition in the country is growing, but fragmented. These various parties have not managed to stand together as a real alternative to Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM). Partia has also had trouble agreeing on her own tenancy. The next election will be in February 2011, but there is excitement about whether Museveni will lose power if he loses the election.
In 2007, Uganda organized a summit for the camps in the Commonwealth with great success. This gave the country and the government a lot of international confidence and prestige, but in the aftermath there has been much criticism of the financial management of this event. Another topic that is becoming increasingly tense is land issues and land courts. The Buganda Kingdom, the largest kingdom in Uganda with its headquarters in Kampala, is still critical of the government in handling land that lies within this kingdom. This has led to increased tensions between the government and the kingdom, which peaked in September 2009, when the government refused to go on an official visit without approval. This led to street riots and clashes between protesters and police, where a dozen people lost their lives. Kingdom of its radio channel, CBS, were shut down by the government and accused of calling for power. Both parties have complained to the judicial system.
The conflict in the north
Northern Uganda, since Museveni came to power, was characterized by conflict. This has been a conflict characterized by enormous humanitarian suffering and abuses against civilians. The conflict is known for brutal abuses against the civilian population, kidnapping of children, rapes, amputations of lips and limbs and widespread use of child soldiers. The governing powers in Uganda have been good at attributing these abuses to the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and Kony, while the responsibility for these abuses rests more on the government forces than they seem to admit. The war in the north started as an opposition to Museveni’s regime in 1986. There are various names on the forces fighting against Museveni’s soldiers, but since 1987 the LRA has been the dominant movement. The conflict had its biggest peaks in 1997 and 2003. In 2006,
Large parts of the people of Northern Uganda offered refugee camps from the mid-1990’s. Life in these camps was largely characterized by fear of their own safety, a ban on moving outside the camps – and thus no opportunity to cultivate the land – and extreme poverty. Since 2007, the security of the area has improved significantly and people have largely begun to move eighteenth to their villages and embarked on cultivating the land. Another sign of progress and optimism in the region is the massive construction activity in the regional capital Gulu. However, about 800,000 live as internally displaced persons.
There is some uncertainty left by Kony and the LRA for some time, but there is a rumor about both the Northeast Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic. It has also been reported that they have been in combat operations in South Sudan in the latter half of 2009.
Trade and business
Uganda is an agricultural nation. Most of the agriculture is self-storage, but the country also exports some coffee and fish to the world market. There is also a relatively large export of other foods to neighboring countries and especially to South Sudan, where food prices are high. Modernization of agriculture with a view to export is a central theme for the governing powers in the country.
Lack of energy and electricity have been and are still a major obstacle to industrial development. Several hydropower plants are under development and the governing authorities have taken steps to remedy the problem. Several Norwegian companies have interests in hydropower development in Uganda.
Recently, oil has been found in Lake Albert and there is hope that this will help to lift the country financially. As is always the case with large discoveries of natural resources, questions are asked about ownership and corrections to the resources. A key problem with these oil deposits is that they are in the border area of the Congo (DRC). Local governments from the Lake Albert region have also demanded that part of the oil revenues be utilized locally. In order for the oil extraction to benefit the people of Uganda, there must be firm demands on economic viability and transparency.
Uganda as a nation is composed of many different ethnic groups. The country has many different languages, but English, Luganda and Swahili are the most important. English is the language used in most official contexts, while luganda is the largest language and is spoken in the region around Kampala. Swahili is officially the language of English, but is of little use to anyone other than the military.
According to Countryaah website, Uganda is one of the countries in the world with the highest population growth, with an annual growth of 3.4 percent. As a result of this, the country has a young population, where about 50 percent are under the age of 15. The country struggled to live with much poverty and about 35 percent lived below the poverty line.
There is relatively great press freedom in Uganda itself if some abuses are found. The press of the press is very critical of the government and some journalists from time to time are arrested and later released. This has also been the case of radio stations that have been closed down. The most important newspapers are New Vision and Daily Monitor. The largest, New Vision, is largely government loyal, while Daily Monitor is deeply critical of NRM’s board.
Despite major challenges, Uganda is a developing country. The country has taken important steps towards democratization, women’s position has gradually improved in recent times, the country has enjoyed economic growth over the last two decades and the security of the north has improved significantly over the past few years. If Uganda manages to continue this development, there is great reason for optimism.
Area: 241 038 km2 (33rd largest)
Population: 38 million
Population density per km2: 131
Urban population: 13 percent
Largest city: Kampala – approx. 1.4 million
GDP per capita: USD 500
Economic growth: 9.5 percent
HDI Position: 157