Big infrastructure projects are always controversial. Yet in parts of the world associated with severely deficient infrastructure, the positive value of major infrastructure investments is often taken as a given.
This assumption needs to be subjected to much greater scrutiny, as I argue in new research that explores the narrative of Africa’s “infrastructure gap” and why different bodies are rushing to “plug” it. The nature of the relationship between infrastructure and economic growth is already contested. Despite their tendency to produce a short term boom, there is evidence that big infrastructure investments can exacerbate economic fragility.
But such negative impacts are more than economic. While some internationally financed transport projects are very popular with many city-dwellers – such as the light rail in Addis Ababa, regardless of its other failings – others can generate widespread anger and various perverse local impacts. The reality is that the kinds of projects attracting big finance are rarely structured to benefit those who most urgently require infrastructure access.
Tropical forests are well known for being the “lungs” of our planet. Through photosynthesis, the trees in these forests produce oxygen and remove enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate global warming.
The world’s most famous tropical forests found on lowlands, like those of the Amazon or Borneo, are celebrated for their ability to store carbon. The Amazon rainforest itself holds up to five years’ worth of human carbon emissions in its trees and soil.
I believe value addition is the future especially in a place like Uganda which has the potential to be an African food basket. If you look at the entire region that consists of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, DRC, and South Sudan, Uganda has 40% of the arable land. We also have massive potential if you look at production per acre of a commodity like rice.
Egypt produces an average of about 5 tons per acre of rice while we only produce about half of that yet we have more fertile soil than them. We will get there by improving our practices and improving our seed quality. Once we improve our production capacity, we can then get into value-add processing. Our focus is on maize, rice, sesame and avocado.
We are especially keen on avocado and sesame oils because we have assessed their market potential in Asian and European markets. We feel that Uganda can ramp up its production capacity because the costs of production are low coupled with favourable climatic conditions.