In this episode of The Uganda News Review, find out about the apps that tackle corruption and money transfer costs, the pupils asked to bring bags of cement to school, and the bishop who gave everything he had to the poor. Plus: the people trying to improve the lot of women in work, and just how successful is Uganda’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals?
Ugandan news in brief: EAC ministers are to sign a regional pact on security and infrastructure development (New Vision) a South Sudan official complains his country is picking up the bills for the Ugandan offensive against Riek Machar’s rebels (Monitor) ++++ Museveni decides he will sign the anti-homosexuality bill, drawing international condemnation (Independent) ++++ Kampala is growing: but unscrupulous investors’ wetland reclamation raises fears of flooding (Monitor) ++++ Women’s activists start a nationwide drive against sexual abuse in the workplace (New Vision)
The top technology stories:
APPS: The Ugandan diaspora makes important contributions to the economy by means of remittances. But sending money from abroad isn’t that easy or cheap. Now, as reported in How We Made It In Africa, the developers of an app are looking to change the game by allowing direct transfer of funds to mobile phones.
Meanwhile, Kampala is becoming a city of traffic jams, and it’s all down to the quality of the roads. Corrupt builders or under-qualified companies will often take large infrastructure subsidies for shoddy maintenance work that degrades in as little as two months – causing potholes, delays and lethal accidents. A new app, as Radio Netherlands reports, is kick-starting conversation about road quality among Uganda’s road users.
ELECTRICITY: It’s frequently joked in Uganda that Jinja district – where the Nile dams are located – has the worst power outages in the country. Underlying the joke, according to East African Business Week’s analysis, is the observation that the towns and villages surrounding the dams don’t always benefit from the electricity they produce – in fact, the dams may be destroying the Nile tourism these locations depend on.
SCHOOLS: Are Uganda’s schools excessively burdening pupils’ families with upkeep and building costs? This is the question New Vision asks, reporting stories of pupils asked to bring bags of cement, scrubbing brushes and washing detergent to school.
OBITUARY: The Catholic Church of Uganda is mourning the death of Bishop Deogratius Byabazaire Abwooli of Hoima. The son of a wealthy family, he gave all his wealth away to serve his church and education – when he wrote his will, all he owned was a box of textbooks, which he bequeathed to universities and seminaries. And at the time of his death he was paying university fees for over 300 students, as recorded in New Vision’s obituary.
2015: Good news for the MDGs: Uganda is one of the countries on track to achieve gender parity in schools by 2015 – having made 95% progress over the last decade – more in New Vision.
But another author raises a pressing concern: has the increase in enrolment, spurred on by the goal of universal primary education, led to a drop in quality?
DISABILITY: According to the PWDs 2006 Act, 10% of the education budget of Uganda should go to disability education. The promised spending has, however, failed to materialise, the Observer reports.
AGRICULTURE: Rose Akaki has a 500ha farm in Northern Uganda. She claims, according to a report on AlertNet Climate, that it’s Uganda’s women farmers who are producing 60% of the food – while men, who own up to 99% of the land, go for the more lucrative cash crops. With farms of such small size, it can be difficult for women to raise the money for fertilisers and other farm improvements – rural networks, however, can help.
and in other news…
A poll conducted for Valentine’s Day has discovered that Ugandans are “more romantic” than Kenyans – though both consider the yearly celebration of love “very important”, New Vision reports.