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For the past view decades the dominant discourse on Africa as a continent has been one about countries that are mostly poor, underdeveloped, and in the worst cases torn by long-lasting and protracted violent conflict.
In the past ten years, however, the African story has been changing in the face of the world. The discourse coined by so-called Afro-pessimists is today challenged by a newly developing narrative. A major aspect of the latter is that “Africa is rising.” The new image of Africa is that it is emerging into a success story of the 21st century with better economic growth prospects, emerging democracies, and expanding opportunities for confronting major political and social challenges.
Uganda is a good example for both sides of the argument. On the one hand, it has achieved praise-worthy economic development with its GDP registering a significant rise from $4.613b in the 1980s to $21.2b today. Furthermore, Uganda’s other remarkable achievements are evident in the areas of peace and stability, education and literacy, fiscal stability, and the development in material infrastructures: roads and energy supply. However on the other hand, there are great challenges to be faced such as youth unemployment, corruption, inadequate service delivery, and the issue of democratic consolidation laced with fears of democratic reversal. This gives both optimists and pessimist ample arguments for their cases and makes Uganda a prime example for the overall debate.
In the debate organised by the University Forum on Governance (UNIFOG) in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), the question to what extend the successes and challenges in Uganda can be used to support one or the other perspective in the debate on 'Africa Rising' is going to be answered. More importantly, however, the focus is also going to be on policies and actions that are needed to enable Uganda to reach its full economic development potential.
The public lecture is going to be given by Prof. Charles Kwesiga , the Executive Director of the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, and it will be followed by a panel discussion bringing together voices from media, academia, politics, and the business sector. Through this the event is going to be a platform to bring together experts and fresh, interested minds to take a step towards mapping out a strategy for the economic development of Uganda that makes use of all its opportunities and avoids its pitfalls.