let’s all go out and wikipedia about Uganda henceforth


I WAS at a clinical laboratory doing my medicals a month ago and, waiting around for somebody to do something about a process, I ran out of things to do with my book and gadget.

During that break, my eyes were drawn to the floor whose tiling I felt was poorly chosen. Surely, I thought, the designers should have used tiles less prone to turning oil-slippery with any fluid spill – especially in a medical facility.

Then I noticed something more annoying: the tile-layers had driven nails into the floor while working, at points chipping the edges and corners of the porcelain and at others not bothering to drive the nails all the way in.

“We need a law to deal with all the people who make this #workmanship happen,” I tweeted.

Stephen Ssenkomago Musoke responded with, “This was the forte of vocational training colleges like Kyambogo (blue collar jobs) which were all changed to white collar universities. To break this cycle we need to go back to the basics grow brick and tile laying, painting, electrical wiring, plumbing, tailoring skills, etc.”

Somebody challenged him with the claim that Kyambogo had been a teacher training college and not a vocational institute, so Stephen sent the link to Kyambogo’s wikipedia page as “a little Saturday history reading.”

Always keen on such history, I read it. Stephen might have been sending us the page as another example of poor workmanship, besides educating the fellow who had challenged him!

Whereas the scantiness of information on the site was irritating, I realised this wasn’t the Kyambogo University website and that I could have gone there for more in this regard.

But a Wikipedia page is an important source of information because it is, presumably, an independent source put together by different well-meaning individuals whose information is filtered through editors who check it for accuracy and non-bias. It’s a fairly accurate crowd-sourced encyclopaedia.

Even if it’s free, to have a Wikipedia page and then not make sensible use of it is as bad as paying large amounts of money for porcelain tiles and then driving nails into them while flooring.

My bother intensified when I found the rather thin list of Kyambogo alumni on there. The only two people under ‘Business’, for instance, are Anatoli Kamugisha of Akright Projects, and Richard Musani, Marketing Manager of Movit Products.

Perhaps it’s just the two of them because they are the only ones with their own Wikipedia listings (as far as the contributor could establish with two clicks)?

Either way, this is the one job of the Kyambogo University information or public relations people – to update their Wikipedia page.

The Makerere University Wikipedia entry fares much better but is also not recently updated – which you can tell from the sentence about the Makerere University Commission of 2016: “The commission’s report is due in late February 2017.” This, meanwhile, is underneath the seemingly unnecessary sub-heading “Unrest in the 2000s”.

Why is that necessary? “Unrest in the 2000s”?! I don’t know – maybe Makerere presents more unrest than most other universities worldwide? What I do know is that this sub-heading is as annoying to me as “Other academics” on the same page, that lists just five (5) ‘other academics’.

On the University of Oxford & University of Cambridge Wikipedia pages there is no mention of unrest and certainly no listing of a couple of academics. Neither do those references exist on the University of Nairobi Wiki page.

There is a chance that the focus of the private individuals who updated the Makerere and Kyambogo pages limited their creativity to these less relevant items of information or, in the case of the ‘other academics’, they simply lost interest along the way.

And this is where we now have the chance to contribute. See, any of us with internet access can log in to Wikipedia and make edits to these pages so we enrich them and attract more scholars to our educational institutes of higher learning.

Both those pages would be massively improved if, for instance, they listed ground-breaking research and publications that have emerged from the said institutions over the years.

We could list all the Conferences hosted there and even highlight the intellectual results thereof or therefrom. The books written by all the First Class students and their later publications would make the Wikipedia entries of both institutions much more useful to internet surfers, the two Universities, Uganda and anyone anywhere at any time!

What about finding the work that the alumni or academia have done in their respective and relevant fields of study and specialisation that has stood out nationally in Uganda, on the Continent of Africa or, even better,in the world at large?

For years now, some of us have highlighted, profiled, tweeted and Re-Tweeted about various innovative and celebrated achievements in agriculture, technology, health and even the military…all originating from Uganda. Surely a few of those could have been put onto the Wikipedia pages of these two academic institutions of higher learning?

Of course.

Even now, I could go on and on but I won’t. Instead, I will hope the nail has been driven home here, but without chipping at the tiles while trying to ensuring they don’t stick out to potentially cause harm to those walking through.

looking at bonang power, #SaveMurchisonFalls might be a storm in a teacup


JUST two weeks ago, the Supervisor of the Security Company that serves us decided to suspend our guard, and then a day later dismissed him from employment.

I was surprised because we have suffered with worse guards that the Supervisor hadn’t addressed himself to, but pleased because this particular fellow really had it coming from the day he arrived.

Not many of the guards turn out dressed sharp and to the nines, but this one always had his uniform dishevelled and crumpled as if he had packed it in an A4-size envelope then sat upon the envelope for a ten-kilometre ride after a heavy meal of boiled beans and cabbage.

I asked him about it once and he mumbled something I couldn’t understand even after I had made him repeat it thrice.

He tended to roll up to work and go straight to sleep, which wasn’t the cause of his dishevelled appearance, because he’d blackout slumped in a garden chair.

He also had no inkling of any etiquette whatsoever, and didn’t find it awkward to be woken up to tend to his duties, and with no apologetic punctuation shuffle off to another corner to fall asleep again within minutes.

His unsuitability for the job was so incredible that the Supervisor withdrew him from work; the same Supervisor who had ignored the fellow’s violently drunken and dull, dim-witted predecessors who tended to get tricked by even the house puppies.

So when the departed guard started hounding me with phone calls and SMS texts I was astonished. He was asking me to employ him directly to do “any work” round the homestead.

This was not a situation I needed to consult anyone over or escalate to the spouse; so I rejected his proposal firmly the minute I heard it.

That lousy guard came to mind this week when the #SaveMurchisonFalls outrage exploded on our socialmedia-sphere in Uganda.

I had to re-read the news story that ignited the outrage and picked out two main points. One – the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) was announcing that it had received an application from “a South African energy firm” for the generation and sale of power; Two – the company was called Bonang Power Energy Limited.

Taking this in reverse order from bottom up, I went straight to the internet to find out more about this Bonang Power Energy Limited. I was certain that only the most serious of companies could court a feature as globally important and rare as the Kabalega (or Murchison) Falls.

All the options on the first page Google brought up were of a South African celebrity called Bonang Matheba, who I had never heard of before in my life.

I went on till I found bonangpower.co.za and was alarmed within minutes.

Few companies with the resources to build a hydropower dam would spend so little money or energy (no pun) on their official online presence.

Another person would have laughed at the way Bonang boldly proclaimed on its home page: “2014 – Year Established; 2 – Projects Completed; 80 Partners Yrs Experience.”, but I couldn’t.

Their address, listed as ‘195 Jan Smuts Avenue, Randburg, 2196’ in South Africa, showed up on Google Maps with the image of ‘The Business Exchange, Rosebank’ https://www.tbeafrica.com/ – a commercial property that also offers co-working and virtual office space.

I did not dare imagine that a large energy company in South Africa might be based in a co-working or virtual space to build and run massive dams in places like Murchison Falls.

And I even thought I had seen the address wrong but:

I’m still checking what I did wrong here…

Their other page is the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Hydropowerinfrastructure/ and, again, perhaps large energy companies in South Africa generally don’t aim for many social media contacts.

More importantly, I noticed that Bonang Power already boasts on their website – when you click on this superb photograph of a Dam (below) about “Uhuru Hydro Power in Uganda”, https://www.bonangpower.co.za/project-3?fbclid=IwAR3X2L7SbtgtMP3DteHxMiyooksqFMVSeznqpHq-HmTekS-kg5GrrKZsi1o and talks about new hydro power stations that “will be built at Ayago, Uhuru, Kiba and Murchison Falls…” but without saying that Bonang will build them.

Then I spotted the link ‘Company Profile’ (in font ‘Times New Roman’) and had to download it https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/9b31a5_24628ee6192d414eaf424b98ea728833.pdf hoping that the #SaveMurchisonFalls battle was worth all the vitriol.

What a waste of time. Besides the type of spelling errors one finds on the packaging of cheap Chinese-made toys or in Nigerian fraudster emails, Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Ltd.’s Company Profile was a sad affair.

The space under the title ‘Team Snap Shot’ was blank – which is probably very accurate because this is clearly a briefcase company!

And they can’t deny it because the mugshot of a smiling chap in a hard hat is the same one on their Facebook page (with three – 3 Likes), and the photo of the Company Chairman, Ernest Moloi, is the same on used in his interview with Forbes Magazine.

The guy in a hard hat on their Facebook page and website is a model you find on Shutterstock when you search for ‘construction worker african american black’.

I won’t even bother going into the profiles of the two people listed as staff because neither has anything to do with hydropower or construction.

In that interview by Forbes Magazine, by the way, is the sentence: “(Moloi) has managed to convince the Ugandan government to build a toll road from Kampala to the corridor of Kenya, and preparations are underway” followed by a claim that he was going to build shopping malls in Uganda.

So he’s already here?

I stopped there to go and do more important things.

Moving up to the first issue I had with this #SaveMurchisonFalls story made me ponder ERA’s wisdom in making their announcement about Bonang Power.

The cursory online check I did on the ‘Company’ was barely due diligence but did not give me confidence to take them seriously. Much the same way that fired guard’s unkempt uniform and poor attitude at work made him too unserious a candidate for me to even tell the spouse about his request for work.

background to the national budget of Uganda 2019-2020 – released june 2019


The Honourable Minister of Finance on Budget Day in the past (Photograph from monitor.co.ug)

THE National Budgets of the East African countries are going to be read out tomorrow in front of tens of millions of eager nationals.

This isn’t the 1980s when we’d sit before television stations and wait for news of the changing cost of sugar, paraffin, maize and petrol.

It is a MUST-READ even now so that you get ahead of everyone else in amending your expectations and plans for the year ahead.

In the meantime, on Twitter, keep your eyes glued for #BudgetUG19 and #UGbudget19, and follow people like @CSBAGUGANDA and @mofpedU and, of course, @skaheru for more.

managing domestic costs and children – the iPhone and pocket money deduction method


OUR CHILDREN are not infants any more.

They therefore have a much closer association today with the real world than they did ten years ago, which has a direct impact on the personal finances of their parents.

But their parents operate on a tight domestic budget, what with mortgages and school fees and groceries and whatnot.

So, thinking like all sensible people out there, we spent the first part of their childhood keeping them distracted by easily affordable childish things. But now that they won’t be distracted by ice cream and screechy toys, we have to keep devising means of lowering the operational costs of having children.

Taking a leaf from years of observing companies and the way they do things, we started picking off one item after another to cut down on, while motivating the children to perform well, to provide us with shareholder value.

First, we got the kids to learn the value of money to each of them personally – the way employees do when they start buying things like nice dinners, furniture and then maybe even cars and houses.

At some point they – the children – started earning pocket money allowances for good deeds or behaviour including attending school. That school attendance allowance was really free money because they honestly had no other choice and were eager to go anyway; but if they ever got tempted to lie in because of heavy morning rains, for instance, we didn’t have to remind them about their account balances.

Plus, our system was so clear that even if a child got admitted to hospital they had no such thing as as sympathy allowance – but they didn’t get a school attendance allowance either.

But they don’t receive cash daily. Instead, they are required to maintain a pocket money allowance record in a book against which we both sign and update almost weekly.

So every weekend, if the children wanted to spend money on treats like snacks, trinkets, toys and fast food, it came out of their own personal money. If ever they find a need to spend any money, they have to whip out their records and make a withdrawal from the parents.

That’s a lesson we learnt early on in our own lives, and when we departed from it as young adults and kept cash on our persons we suffered for it shortly into the month – mostly on Mondays.

This arrangement for the children, with time, became precarious for us: one day the eldest walked up with a large sheet of paper on which she had written mathematical workings to back her case for me to place an order for an iPhone she had seen online.

I audited her records and she passed the audit.

I didn’t have all that money handy and used only one delaying tactic – she hadn’t factored in the shipping costs. She went back and returned with a notification of how many school days she was going to attend in order to reach the desired amount.

We’ve never looked back.

Sometimes they’ll do extra bits of work that doesn’t involve domestic chores but to earn extra money so they can hit personal targets that require said money.

And then there are the penalties. If any of them misbehaved they got fined on the spot, losing some of their allowances. And, again taking a leaf from some companies observed, some domestic fixes have been tied to these allowances.

A couple of weeks ago I was pleased to hear them having a major argument over who had left the lights on in one room.

See, to cut down on electricity costs I used to run patrols around the house switching lights off while shouting about it. Somehow they’d get switched back on again.

So I started a Ushs500 deduction for every time I find a room empty but with lights on – Ushs500 off each of their allowances for the day, to create some group responsibility.

That worked perfectly. Where before they stampede off to school leaving every lightbulb burning, today the house is in quiet darkness as they go.

Most sensible companies do this.

You earn a monthly salary for doing your job. Sometimes even when you don’t do your job you still earn your monthly salary – just like the kids going to school and getting their daily allowance for just showing up.

When your eyes are set on a target you work even harder, if you’re sensible, and avoid getting into any shenanigans that could lose you any earnings.

Some companies will even arrange for furniture and electronics suppliers to come to the offices to make a pitch so you work harder to earn the money required. Like the internet does to make the iPhone so attractive to the children that they stay on their best behaviour all through.

And companies offer incentives based on targets that also include cost-cutting initiatives and adherence to budgets and plans – just like my energy saving one at home.

Next…? Perhaps it’s time to move the incentives upwards to mid-management level. Don’t tell them till we’ve finalised the strategy, but the domestic staff are getting in on this soon.

first, let’s focus our irritation on the urban planners


AFTER a three-hour journey covering ten kilometres of a tarmac road last week, I was sufficiently incensed at one group of people in particular, and hereby call for our national attention to be turned straight onto them.

See, there is no way we should be suffering with this phenomenon that links specific and predictable factors to the creation of the heavy traffic that disrupts so many lives in so many ways.

We all know when it is going to rain and we all know when schools are in or out. Rain and other weather patterns are regularly made available to us by way of the internet via mobile phones and computers.

For those still living in the past, every night there are television news bulletins that even show us graphics of raindrops, as if to accommodate those within our society who are so dim-witted they cannot recognise the four letter word ‘rain’.

As for school holiday schedules, those could be harder to identify if one doesn’t have a child resident in a boarding school. But for all the irritation they cause road users, surely we should do what I do and keep checking with parents of these children to mark the dates when they will be thronging the roads to take pilao and Minute Maid juice on visitation dates, or to pick them up for holidays.

My three hour trip last week almost put me in trouble but the person I was going to meet was also delayed, and so we agreed to change our meeting time and venue.

That day school hadn’t yet broken out but I presume most parents had whipped out their extra cars a few days early in order to test their suitability for ferrying teenagers back for the holidays.

This coincided with a rainstorm of significantly heavier proportions than normal suddenly erupting mid-afternoon and trapping us in gridlocks created by the stupidity and selfishness of road-users who couldn’t see or think beyond the number plate immediately in front of them.

A really bad traffic jam – in a photo taken from bloomberg.com and, luckily, NOT in Kampala

Many others suffered worse. My friend, Matthew Lorika, got caught in the horrendous traffic en route to a business meeting along Jinja Road that he couldn’t miss otherwise a large crop upcountry would have suffered.

Assessing the heavy Jinja Road traffic and the rainstorm looming above, he ditched his car and hopped onto a boda-boda so he could get to his destination quickly, finish business and return before the downpour. The traffic was so bad that even the boda-boda got caught in it!

He made his trip and presentation of his sample for processing and export, but had to hang around for hours waiting for the rain and traffic to clear.

In those traffic jam situations I normally join everybody else in giving way to Ambulances and every time I think to myself how unlikely it is that the sufferers inside them will make it to hospital in time to recover.

And last week I considered who those occupants might be, going through many professions. Some made me smile – like if taxi drivers could ever go on one of those life-saving rides, would they thereafter be more considerate about parking in a way that blocks traffic flow? That almost had me giggling with glee at the possibility.

But not as much as the thought of what would happen if Urban Planners were caught in life-threatening situations, put into an Ambulance, and then found the traffic so bad they couldn’t make it to the hospital on time.

That got me thinking a bit more. Who are these Urban Planners, in Kampala or Uganda?

Because I haven’t studied it professionally I had to google the phrase ‘Urban Planning’ and found it defined as: “a technical and political process concerned with the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks.”

I can only presume that we have such people employed in our central and local governments because I see it is available for study at University level in Uganda. While other institutions offer related courses, Makerere University lists a ‘Bachelors Degree in Urban Planning’ as well as a ‘Masters of Science in Urban Planning and Design’!

So where are the people who study these things? Where did they find jobs? And if the people who took those jobs in places like Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and all districts simply didn’t study for their jobs professionally, then we need the Police and Inspector General of Government and other forces to flush them out of office.

Surely the least these Urban Planners could do for us would be to announce when traffic will be heavier because of school schedules, so that we make conscious decisions to stay out of it? But no – they didn’t study any of this in school at any level, obviously.

Which makes me wonder what THEY do when caught in that traffic? Are they not irritated by it all? Or are they the ones speeding through with Ambulances and convoys with pseudo-strobe lights?

Do our Urban Planners own the fuel companies that benefit so much from the time we spend idling and crawling in traffic jams?

One way or another, there is something not right, so while the IGG and Police work out how to deal with this, since as road-users we can’t check for the weather forecast or school schedules or change our selfish driving habits, I propose a bridging solution:

Let’s give Urban Planners special number plate markers like the ones of ministers, so we can see them on the road. And let’s create some reverse sirens and strobe-lighting so that when they approach we make them stay at the very back of any line of motor vehicles they meet.

If we can just pile up all our traffic irritation onto this one group of people, it will most certainly be a beginning to getting them to solve this issue. If.