OPINION | The Northern Link UG | The poverty trap and development gap conveyed in the picture below offers a harsh reality, about not just Uganda and Rwanda but so many other countries around Africa. It portrays the destitution and the significant differences between the two countries. A trap instigated by the destructive system of governance in Uganda oiled in distinction to many Un-Ugandan decisions from the forerunners of decision making in government.
The apologists will base on what must be termed as ‘Economic Obstructions’ like Gross Domestic Product-GDP; Consumer Price Index; Stock market Value, Per Capita Income and Inflation rate to say we are better than Rwanda, that is a wrong and incorrect measurement of development. It is actually misleading and one of the biggest deceptions and fallacies to an already failing state. This is because it is all about the Money sequence of Value rather than the Life sequence of value.
They would seldomly or never talk about the progress of this country based on the Life Sequence of Value which necessitates: The physical well-being of its citizens; The state of happiness of its citizens; The trust entailed among the citizens; and the Social Stability of the citizens.
They will quote GDP statistics to the front of their arguments. Well, GDP is the measure of total goods and services sold. Most panelists claim it correlates to the standard of living of people which is wrong, they would chest stamp in 1986 it was this and in 2021 it is this. But that is far-fetched from the truth. I always ask myself if besides quoting statistics, they would go beyond the figures and understand the truth. It would be fair enough.
The ideal question is do this comparison tell us anything about the quality of life? NO; Take, In 2009 health care contributed 17.3% of the GDP of the USA amounting to over $2.5 trillion spent. This created a positive effect on the GDP scale. However, this would be even better if the US economy increases to say $7 trillion. This would create more growth and jobs thus a more positive GDP measurement.
But what do Health care services represent? It represents sick and dying people. The more unhealthy people are in an economy, the better the economy thus GDP. This represents industrial inefficiency, social degradation as the more you see it rise. The worst things are becoming with respect to social, environmental, and economic integrity. It’s about creating problems to create profits. There is no profit in saving lives and justice. This GDP rises due to increased necessity which is attributed to increasing in inefficiency.
It is just like seeing propagandists use Per Capita Income as a measure to determine the average per-person income for a country. They use it to evaluate the standard of living and quality of life of the population, it considers the gross national income to the National population. Using the Economic obstructions like GDP, Per Capita Income, etcetera are wrong as they take into account only the Economic Aspect of Life and ignore the Social Aspect of Lifelike education, health, life expectancy, and sanitation.
Back to reality, why must Rwanda look better and more organized than Uganda always? Is it about varying culture, climate, geography, or ignorance of domestic leaders? The real reason lies in the role of political and economic institutions. Only Nations with an inclusive political system can achieve prosperity, extractive political institutions like in Uganda have wealth accumulated within a narrow ruling elite. They aim to preserve their power thus sentencing the rest of the country into persistent and utter poverty.
In the book “Why nations fail: The Origins of Power, prosperity and poverty” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson states:
” Nogales, a city on the US-Mexican border is split half by a fence. Due to the different institutional settings within them raise a crucial difference. One city, in the same geographical position, characterized by the same cultural upbringings, same population, same diseases but like completely different planets brought together”. Such is the fate and reality at Gatuna border post.
Okay, you can argue with me that why can’t you compare roads constructed on the Ugandan highway? These are roads constructed using loans before even the loan is paid fully. You find the roads are already spoilt and need more successive loans to build the same road. Due to grand-scale looting, we have big projects which are the most expensive in the whole world. All the costs of our projects in Uganda are inflated for individual gains by the few cartels with the whims of power. Take the Isimba dam, Karuma dam and the Entebbe-Kampala expressway projects are all the most expensive projects in the whole world in the respective sectors. This shows the extractives in our political and institutional setup.
Thika highway in Kenya is 50Km with 8 lanes and costs $360 Million, which is about $7.2M per kilometer. The Ugandan Entebbe-Kampala expressway is 53Km with 4 lanes and cost $476 Million accruing a hooping $9M per kilometer. This means that if the Kenyan government was given the same money ($476M), they would have constructed a 4 lane 132Km expressway from Entebbe via Kampala to Jinja. It is saddening to see UNRA looking for more loans to build the Kampala-Jinja expressway yet the money was already given but looted indirectly. But does it mean we have bad negotiators? Or does it justify a leak in the procurement? Who benefits from the loot?
Let us talk about another flagship project of the extractive NRM government. In 2011, then Energy Minister Hilary Onek told reporters that the cost of the Karuma dam plant, situated on the Nile River was estimated at $900 million. This was later officially settled at $1.7billion after unjustified inflation to bring in the loot. Isimba dam project costs $576 million. This shows that both projects cost the country about $2.3 billion yet in principle from the loan and are estimated to produce about 780MW.
It implies that we are constructing each Megawatts(MW) of the 780MW at a staggering $2,945,787 per MW. Compare that with other flagship dam construction projects in Africa. Great Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance dam costs $6.4bn, with a production capacity of about 6,450MW costing $991,633 per MW.
Mr. Harold Kaija puts it that “Lesotho constructed a dam of 6,000MW at a cost of $800,000 per MW, totaling to $4.8bn”. If we take the average for the 2 projects it’s about $900,000 per MW. This implies we needed just about $702M for both Karuma and Isimba dam. Where did the $1.6 bn go? Of course for the grand scale loot, that is why I never celebrate any project done by the NRM government. We have observed what is currently happening at COSASE in regards to looting, its all not news to me now and the culprits will never face justice.
With the $1.6 bn, we would have constructed about $444km of a 4 lane Entebbe-Kampala expressway on the assumption we used the Kenyan art of bargaining and Making a deal. From the Entebbe-Kampala and Karuma, isimba dam money. We would have built a 4 lane road totaling to 561.7Km, that is from Entebbe via Kampala to Gatuna border and another to Jinja.
We are slaves and victims because of a lack of virtue, morals, and integrity which is an institutionalized problem. While talking about Aristotle’s political philosophy in “Masters of Political thought”, Michael B. Foster says “If he has not a virtue, he is the most unholy and most savage of Animals. But justice is the bond of men in states, for the administration of justice which is the determination of what is just is the principle of order in political society”. The lack of justice makes us see the looters taking more positions in decision-making without going to jail.
This has created a state where everyone is for him/herself, a country where no one is the brothers’ or sisters’ keeper. Plato earmarks that;
“In a well-ordered state, the citizens have compassion and sympathy for one another. When any experiences good or evil, the whole state will make his or her case their own and rejoice or sorrow together”.
This is explained why you will see mockery contrary to sympathy when some people are in trouble, gloom in contrary to exultation. That should worry us more than anything else. It all comes down to the Systematic rot in our failing government.
In time memorial, this government has never been at its weakest and exposed point as it is today. Sadly, they think they are at the strongest. Keep looting loots which will never quench your thirst, surely you will bulge and rupture. It is just a matter of time, time is definite and never lies. It has always stood the test of history
A looter continua 😉
Jakech Boris Rwothomio
DISCLAIMER: Opinion made in this article is entirely not of the publisher but rather of the Author.