Baryamureeba: “For Technology To Succeed There Must Be Political Will”

more about geneva;”>The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) chairman said this at a breakfast fellowship meeting with the Rotary Club Presidents, buy Rotarians and Friends on May 16 at Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala.

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The purpose of the meeting was to talk about the role of science and technology in the development process.

He said with advances in Science and Technology(S&T), many developments will emerge that will shape the economic landscape of many countries over the decade.

“Advances in S&T offer the potential for innovation in literally every aspect of human life, society and work. For Science and Technology (S&T) to cause development it must be systematically planned, programs identified and sufficiently funded,” he added.

“An example of a systematically planned program is the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 research and development program. The EU is currently in the process of approving an ambitious €80 billion initiative. Its goal is to stimulate the growth of key sectors across the EU,” said Baryamureeba.

He further asserted that for S&T initiatives by government to succeed there must be political leadership and commitment. “For instance, on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. Research and Development funds were made available to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the rest is history.”

“In the same vain, for Uganda as a country to meaningfully benefit from S&T innovations, we need to come up with a well-planned and integrated S&T flagship program that should be promoted by the political leadership and funded from the national budget,” he added.

He gave an example of Mauritius as a country from COMESA and South Korea from Asia who used to be economically at per with Uganda in the 50s but have now developed to a move advanced level because of scientific and technological innovations.

Mauritius obtained its political independence from Great Britain on March 12, 1968. Like most of the other colonies of Great Britain in Africa, Asia and America, it had to produce whatever the colonial government decided to impose upon it.

It was poor in natural resources, especially in minerals and the most important naturally economic resource was the sugar-cane fields successfully nurtured by the French colonists. It was a mono crop plantation economy, a sugar economy.

However, after a visit to Taiwan – Kao-Hsiung Export Processing Zone, by a Mauritius delegation, Mauritius adopted an Export-Oriented Industrialization (EOI) Strategy in 1970.

It started viewing the concept of the export-processing zone as a legal status or framework within which firms producing for the export markets could take advantage of the mostly fiscal and financial incentives provided in the law.

Baryamureeba noted that today, there are three pillars of the economy of Mauritius, agriculture which has been diversified away from just sugar to crops for mainly domestic consumption and export oriented production of fruits.

The Export Promotion Zone Sector and Industry and the tourism sector that is now more focused on maintaining the select clientele, who are high-spending tourists and to avoid mass tourism and protecting the environment in both a physical and social sense.

“These sectors have also benefited from a stable political environment in Mauritius compared to many African countries in the 1970’s and 1980’s when military and political coups-d’état were so common and numerous,” he noted.

He however, noted that Uganda has to use Mauritius as a lesson and learn that: “We need to maintain political stability as a catalyst for the country’s development, enforce zero tolerance to corruption and diversify the economy further and focus more on industrialization and service sector including tourism.”

As for South Korea, it has transformed from poverty to wealth by exploiting science and technology.

“In the 1950s and 1960s, the per capita income of Korea was less than $100 – about what it is today in the poorest south Asian and African countries. However, in the 1960s, South Korea under President Park Chung-hee launched economic and social development plans, and soon the economy began to grow, although the lives of ordinary people were hardly affected until the 1970s.

The Korean economic miracle that was achieved under President Park’s leadership in the 1960s and 1970s is a story of dazzling national transformation from poverty to wealth,” said Baryamureeba.

He added that the lesson for Uganda especially as we implement Uganda vision 2040 is that it is possible if we really implement our economic and social plans.

Baryamureeba affirmed that for Uganda to transform, there are key issues the government leadership has to undertake such as to ensure a transformative leadership at all levels of government and society, a national budget finances priority sectors as per the National Development Plan and identify strategic programs across all sectors.

He also noted that the government needs to entrench national value system, ensure all citizens to be economically active, address on the poor attitude/ laziness towards work, institute zero tolerance to corruption and maintain a political stability as a catalyst for the country’s development.

Baryamureeba urged Uganda Universities to focus on science and Technology in order to spur more innovations.

“It is interesting to note that the Internet and the mobile phone are some of the greatest S&T innovations of the last century. We have witnessed many mobile phone based applications but one that has had great impact in Uganda is mobile money transfer.

In the near future we are going to witness many mobile phone based innovations that are going to revolutionalize every aspect of human life, society and work,” he said.

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