Uganda Pivots to Wealth Creation Amid US Kayihura Sanctions

In September of 2019, the US levied sanctions against former Ugandan Inspector General of Police.  The US Department of the treasury issued the sanction citing, “human rights abuses, corruption and bribery.” In better context, it would be the equivalent of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi levying sanctions against former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for human rights abuses and corruption.

The former Inspector General was also the target of a visa ban restricting his travel to the United States–similar to those rolled out by the Administration in February, setting limits on U.S. travel and immigration for Somalia, Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyztan, Tanzania and Sudan. Currently the U.S. has 34 Active sanctions updated as recently as 2017.  It is possible that move against Kayihura are a part of actions initiated by the 2017 Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).  In July 2017, the bipartisan bill, HR-3364 passed almost unanimously (98-2 in the Republican controlled Senate and 419-3 in the Democratic-leaning house) which confers powers to levy sanctions against nations and individuals deemed a threat to U.S interest or security.

While this may be a clear case of overreach, the Ugandan State House released an official statement in September in response to the move:

“. . . for Kale or other Ugandans who are suspected to have made mistakes, they will always be handled in Uganda. That is why we shall never hand any Ugandan to, for instance, the Court in The Hague- the ICC. Kale is already facing whatever mistakes he is suspected to have committed in our Courts. What value addition is, then, there from external actors? In co-operation in, for instance, Defense matters, some of the Western Countries tried to tell us which soldiers should not be selected for courses in their countries and we rejected that position by stopping all training in those countries.”

Despite the sanction, Uganda has been keen to pursue steady growth.  Just four months earlier in May, Ugandan President, Yoweri Musevini began national conversations on pushing growth.  According to the official report, the state will be targeting four areas of growth: ICT, Agriculture, Industry and Services.  He like many on the continent are beginning to see the financial and resource powerhouse individual nations can become of energies, talents and creativity are focused in the right direction.

Kale is already facing whatever mistakes he is suspected to have committed in our Courts. What value addition is, then, there from external actors?

According to the African Development Bank, in 2019 Uganda had an average 6.3 percent growth rate with its highest growth in the services and industrial growth area, leveraged by its mining and construction sectors.  In that same report, Agriculture lagged as indicated by official communiques released by the Ugandan State House discouraging subsistence farming and a report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics citing that nearly 70 percent of Ugandans do not participate in the money system.

Could it be that the majority of Africans on the continent (not those in major cities) do not participate in the money system and therefore contribute to the narrative that Africa is poor?  When actually it is only fiat currency poor?  As Uganda continues to have talks about bolstering key sectors in its economy, it is important to note whether that conversation is being had across the continent and in developing nations around the world.  Would poor Ugandans be at risk of outside sanctions if they were a part of the money system?  How can Uganda and nations like it increase the quality of life for its citizens without restricting them to the now rigid and archaic world monetary system?

“. . . nearly 70 percent of Ugandans do not participate in the money system.”

These are not just questions for Uganda, but for much of the world–particularly those who are moving away from the current financial model.  Only time will tell if we are moving into an age when developing nations will innovate a new, more efficient system that reflects the lives, traditions and welfare of its people and catapults it finally from developing to thriving.

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