Ugandans Lack Focus


this site geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>I attended the East African Healthcare Federation Conference in Nairobi last weekend, story which brought together those working in the health sector in Kenya, generic Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

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As I travelled back with some of my Ugandan colleagues, a senior consultant remarked to me that the Kenyans are moving forwards fast, while as Ugandans, we are slow and moreover have difficulty pulling it together to achieve results.

The missing ingredient is ‘focus’. They say that if you don’t have a target you will never hit it.

It seems that many of us don’t have any target as to what we want to achieve – as individuals, as a group, a sector, or a nation.

When a Kikuyu smells a business opportunity, there is no way he will let anything get between him and that business, but in Uganda, we are easily distracted.

For example, we have been developing the oil sector in Uganda for the past five years.

Ghana discovered oil at the same time and went into production last year. Kenya discovered oil much later than Uganda, but they look like they could overtake us.

What is the difference? It is focus (or the lack of it). Many projects are in the national interest, but are delegated to some bureaucrats who just follow process, with no focus on achieving results, so the projects drag on and are never complete.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I find it interesting that the four people who have achieved measurable results in development of this country are women: Allen Kagina in URA, Jennifer Musisi in KCCA, Maria Kiwanuka in the Ministry of Finance and Mama Janet Museveni in her constituency and in Karamoja.

I meet Jennifer in the course of my work and she is a person who is focused on getting results for Kampala – to the point that when the Ministry of Finance threatened to cut the KCCA budget, she went along to the Ministry and fought for her share.

How many people in the public sector care enough to really put up a fight?

In my own organization, I have heard that staff are sometimes criticized by fellow staff for caring too much about the business. The remark is made.

‘Why should you be bothered anyway, is it your father’s business?’

But if anyone has a job in an organization, or in government, it is automatically his business: it is where he gets his livelihood and he should be passionate about it. Kampala is our city and is worth fighting for.

Today, I launched a project in Makindye Division to rehabilitate a number of roads, including building a new road across the railway line from Fifth Street to Namuwongo Road which should make a marked improvement in the flow of traffic across the railway line.

I had the idea for this road three years ago, but I didn’t give up because it was worth fighting for.

I knew what I wanted and kept pushing. But it seems that many of us don’t have a drive or focus to push for a result, and are prepared to leave everything to ‘the government’ or to our boss, or just pass the buck.

But who is the government exactly? It is not one person, the President, since he cannot do everything, much as he might like to micromanage.

Therefore, if those below him in the public and private sectors are not driving things forward in the development agenda, the country will not develop spontaneously.

My observation about Kenyans as compared to Ugandans, is that Kenyans are focused on getting results, while we are passive.

Kenyans are by no means perfect and Ugandans have many strengths which Kenyans lack, but one area we could learn from them is their sense of focus on achieving results.


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