Investing in New City Infrastructure will be Uganda’s Enabler of Economic Growth in the Region

Investing in New City Infrastructure will be Uganda’s Enabler of
Economic Growth in the Region
By Kigezi News Reporter
Nations and cities are positioning themselves according to their
strength and connections as global growth takes center stage in
infrastructure development.
The 21st century infrastructure development promises jobs, trade,
investment, commercial production, tourism, health and security, to
mention but a few.
President Yoweri Museveni’s has a vision is to uplift Uganda’s per
capita income to $1,033 by 2020, grow the National GDP to $600b with a
per capita income of $9,500 by 2040.
To reach this vision, Uganda has been increasing its development
budget of infrastructure and is edging closer to etching the country
to top position in East Africa and the Great Lakes Region in business.
It is possible to grow our GDP from $25b to $600b if we think globally
and act locally.What will be our position as we go through a complex
and distant chain that connects the world.
In an article by BBC in 2016 titled:‘Are Cities the New Countries?’
the writer notes that big cities now have bigger populations and
economies than many individual countries.
As such, such cities will face many similar challenges, whether it is
transport, housing, security, jobs, migration or education.
Kampala city is projected of follow a similar path as it seeks to
expand, encompassing neighbouring urban centres to create the Greater
Kampala.
Unfortunately, Kampala’s infrastructure is insufficient and its
expansion is certain to be very expensive.Charles Niwagaba, an
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Makerere
University’s College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology
(CEDAT), says one of the major problems in developing cities like
Kampala is that development is normally moving faster than planning.
“There should exist a city plan, into which the developments fit! The
faster pace of development both public and private need it, without a
plan it means that once other infrastructure is broken to allow for
other facilities and infrastructure becomes expensive for something
that should have been planned for in the first place”.
For instance, DrNiwagaba cites the Nsooba/Lubigi drainage system in
Bwaise, a Kampala suburb which was not planned for when the multi-
billion Northern Bypass was built about ten years ago.
The road had to be torn apart shortly after construction to allow for
the construction of the drainage channel, resulting into a double
expense.
City authorities across the entire East Africa, Niwagaba observes,
risk paying nine times more for the provision of social and services
to city residents in future as population surges and no safeguards are
in place.
Kampala City is already overwhelmed by its current population and may
fail to adequately provide housing, employment, services and utilities
at the current rate of migration.
Yet, the population is expected to keep growing. If internal migration
remains unchecked, the city’s population is expected to reach 20
million by 2040.
Housing crisis
By 2011, Kampala had a deficit of over 100,000 units, according to the
Uganda Bureau of Statistics(UBOS) and a large number of city dwellers
live in one-room tenements commonly known as ‘ Muzigo’, which are
regarded neither safe nor healthy for abode.
By 2040, Kampala will need to have built at least 2.2 million modern
residential housing units to match the growing population.
Amanda Ngabirano, a lecturer and urban planning consultant says
Kampala is messed up, its over burdened by population pressure and
push-pull factors.
“Everyone wants to be in Kampala for services and jobs, investors and
the piece meal developments that are not solving the current
challenges”.
Amanda says we need a vision for a bigger picture, a new City.
Government should not allow investors in congested Kampala.
Not attractive anymore
Planners hired to carry out a thorough assessment of Kampala, whose
findings were relied upon to produce a draft Kampala Physical
Development Plan(PDP) determined that the city was disorderly.
“The city has lost its form, attractiveness and identity as the
‘Garden City of Africa’. It has inappropriately sold or used its
primary inner-city land reserves. It has allowed, sometimes even
unknowingly promoted, intolerable densification of informal
settlements to slum level,” reads an excerpt from an early draft of
the plan that captures views of the development experts.
Most of Kampala’s natural assets (wetlands, forests, views, springs)
as well as its infrastructure and services were degraded to the point
where many need to be redeveloped from scratch, the report says.
“The result of this is a disjointed and incremental growth “, the
report states, warning of future risks such as pressure on
infrastructure, destruction of the urban economy and damage to
ecological system.
In many places you walk a few meters from the central business
district, come face to face with flies, garbage, dusty roads, potholes
dilapidated structures and poor access to key services including
health services.While a lot is being done by new management, experts
agree that so much more is yet to be done.
Security
Along with infrastructure and service delivery challenges, a high rate
of crime are potent challenges that emerging and growing cities have
to contend with.
In Uganda, an upsurge in crime has taken a heavy toll on the country’s
law enforcement agencies and prompted President Yoweri Museveni to
take a keen outlook on the development trajectory.
“Killers are taking advantage of the huge success by Ugandans of
buying more cars, more bodabodas, building more hotels, building more
shops and trading centres, and building more houses and having large
numbers of people in the towns, since 2012, they started on a series
of killings and now more recently, kidnappings,” he observed recently.
The President has over the years brought pride to Uganda a country
after it had lost everything in the eyes of its people and
international community.
After 1986, the President started a journey of pacifying the country
of insurgents, restoration of the economy and rebuilding the
much-needed infrastructure.
With a robust economy, Museveni has emphasized financing ambitious
projects that will boost trade in Uganda and the Great Lakes Region.
Uganda lies in the heart of Africa and therefore the President has
been right to invest in heavy infrastructure like hydroelectricity
dams, roads, airports and many others.
Kampala remains at the heart of Uganda’s development and rebuilding
the city into a modern, commercial hub will serve Uganda and the East
African region’s long-term economic ambitions.
Recently, the 50km Kampala-Entebbe expressway was commissioned, adding
to a number of large infrastructure projects with potential to improve
connectivity and boost tourism.
However, many agree that it is time to build a new city that will
relieve Kampala of its current and future ills and boost trade links
in the region.
Africa Needs strong cities
African countries are facing the danger of marginalization, unity and
self-reliance as well as accelerating the process of African economic
integration.
To avoid the dangers of development, a number of countries are
increasingly moving important functions out of clogged cities to find
new space.
Neighbouring Tanzania for instance, has moved some important
departments including commerce, education and aviation
fromDaresalaamto Dodoma in recent years.
In South Africa, Parliament sits in Cape Town,the executive government
in Pretoria while the judiciary headquarters are in Bloemfontein, the
capital of Free State.
A new, well-thought out location for a new city would help link Uganda
to regional strategic projects that allow Uganda to tap into
opportunities on the global supply chain.
Tourism is one such are where the opportunities abound. According to
the travel and tourism economic impact 2017, tourism contributed $1.8b
(sh 6.171 trillion) to Uganda’s economy which is 6.6% of GDP. This is
expected to rise each financial year but we need to work on
infrastructure.

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