About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic



Monday, May 21, 2018

Inside Africa’s real tragedy


How the ideology of a welfare state has destroyed our continent and impoverished its people
Everywhere I turn these days, Ugandans (and Africans generally) are complaining about the sorry state of our education and healthcare systems. There is a widespread belief across development literature that state (or public) investment in health and education is a panacea to the problems of development.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Africa’s need for messiahs


Inside our belief that the salvation of our nations will come from the actions of one great man

If you follow discussions on politics in Uganda, or Africa generally, one factor is given as the cause of the slow rate of development – poor leadership. I used to hold this view but outgrew it in large part because I recognised that African leaders are propelled to power by the social dynamics of our societies. It follows that what they do with power reflects more on who we are as a people than who they are as individuals.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Understanding why nations fail

How a book celebrated by the world’s leading economists is actually an intellectual absurdity 

Last Saturday, my intellectual friends and I held a thrilling debate on a book by James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu titled `Why Nations Fail’. The book became an instant bestseller when it was published. Five Nobel laureates in economics endorsed it. Four other economists I hold in high esteem did that same. Jarred Diamond, whose work on the role of geography in the economic prosperity got me thinking in 1998, said good things about it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Inside Uganda’s healthcare tears


Why trying to do everything for everyone, everywhere has ended up doing little for anyone, anywhere

The debate on health policy in Uganda is frustrating. Our health services are characterized by corruption, absenteeism, incompetence and apathy. Everyone is angry and frustrated including President Yoweri Museveni. This misery is self-inflicted because we refuse to acknowledge the limits on the state’s ability to do everything for everyone everywhere.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thinking succession in Uganda


Why the failure of a third force has locked us in a choice between Museveni and Besigye

In debating whether President Yoweri Museveni should go or stay we are not indulging in an abstract theoretical exercise but a challenge of practical politics. We can say Museveni’s government is performing badly, we need to improve it from within; or that it is dysfunctional, we need to change it from without.

Monday, April 16, 2018

On Africa’s big dreams


Why our continent needs to rethink her overenthusiastic attitude towards foreign direct investment

Last month, Rwanda hosted the African Union’s summit on the Continent Free Trade Area (CFTA). The discussions were as inspiring as they were frustrating. Leaders from government and the private sector talked big about the benefits of integration. Some even suggested an African crypto-currency. There is a mistaken belief that the existence of a common interest is sufficient to promote a collective effort to achieve it. This is rarely true.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Uganda’s new villain


Why the country and its president are fighting the wrong enemy on electricity tariffs

A large cross section of Ugandan elites is angry, very angry. It thinks the price (tariff) it buys electricity at is too high. So it has been looking for a villain to blame and has identified Umeme, the private utility licensed to distribute electricity. President Yoweri Museveni, who many Ugandans accuse of owning the company, has also joined the anti-Umeme coalition. Last year his villain was Bujagali Electricity Limited (BEL), the largest hydro electricity generator in Jinja. So the villain is a moving target and this explains why the debate on causes of high electricity tariffs is a toxic combination of high emotion and little knowledge.