Monday, March 14, 2016


This week the Supreme Court challenge of President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in the recently concluded polls kicked off.

In a nutshell rival Amama Mbabazi wants the court to find that Museveni’s victory was fraudulently achieved and should be cancelled altogether.

The civil tones in which the debate is being conducted mask the high stakes involved.

Not to denigrate the importance of the process underway on its impact on the current events and its repercussions down the ages, but elsewhere issues of much wider importance are being contemplated.

This week more than 1000 people gathered in Dakar, Senegal for the first global gathering of African scientists, the “Next Einstein Forum”.

Uganda was very ably represented among the 15 young African “fellows” singled out for the impact of their work and to demonstrate to the world that the continent is not only about war, disease and poverty.

Our representative Noble Banadda, not a household name, is doing ground breaking work in bioprocessing engineering, one of which application would be the ability to predict the future based on biological observations, a skill which would be useful in predicting outbreaks. For countries without the resources to fight epidemics this science would be critical.

The other young scientists are inquiring into such other pressing subjects as waste management, cellular immunology to improve disease diagnosis, cyber security as a predictive tool for natural disasters, better therapeutic and diagnostic tools for HIV and optimisation of government resource allocation using mathematics through.

It is all Greek but will probably find wide application in our life time.

Most of us would be bored within an inch of our lives in a hall with all these geniuses but this conference is important for one critical reason.

"The inadequacy of our continent, mainly manifested by our sub human levels of poverty, is because we are unable to unlock the vast resources under, in and on our soils and our own human potential...

It is estimated that our continent – not only around east and central Africa, not only has traces of all know mineral resources but in proportions if properly exploited to banish world poverty for generations.

The key word is estimated, because no comprehensive exploration has been done except maybe in south and north Africa to map out these riches. That is a problem because the capital required to exploit this potential will not move unless there is a real commercial proposition to do so. Our adventures with oil are evidence enough of that.

But before we even try to scratch at our soils our won human potential has not been fully exploited for lack of education, sickness and bad government.

One may wonder about the next example but in the book “TheHalf Has Never Been Told” author Edward Baptist shows that slavery was the rock on which US capitalism was built. People have argued that the abolition of slavery in the US came about because it was an inefficient means of production, in fact Baptist shows that at its height the slave camps of the south were much more productive than the industries of the north.

Slavery was beaten back in order to neuter the slave owners who were politically powerful and in the way of rapid industrialisation of the northern states.

The point is that if our forefathers helped build America our human capacity to turn around our current plight is not in dispute. Never mind that the American slavers extracted productivity from their slaves by physical and mental torture the likes of which had never been seen before or since.

"In order for the continent to unlock its vast bounties for the benefit of its people we need to not only seat up and take notice when our youth are pressing against the boundaries of known science but to encourage them in any way possible because it is this new technologies honed at home that will be our salvation...

No one else is going to do it for us. For instance in the west most medical research goes to non-communicable diseases – heart disease, cancer and degenerative diseases, while in Africa our most pressing problems are Malaria, HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis and Diarrhoea, and maybe add Ebola, which the west only commits a relatively small amount to.

Gatherings like the “Next Einstein Forum” are more than just a curiosity, they need to be taken seriously.

Somebody clearly is. At the gathering there were people from more than 100 countries represented. But there are only 54 countries in Africa!!!

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