Archive for November, 2007

The Party was only held in Uganda, to its despair

November 30, 2007

It was the time for Uganda to be in the lime light in the world, to feature on global wires and Papers.  It was a time to consolidate the Pearl of Africa’s international image, to pull down the face of Amin and the ghosts that remain of him and put up Museveni’s face- a ‘liberator’ who picked up the country and ‘put it back on truck.’ 

Indeed over 700 journalists descended on Kampala to perhaps bump into this cause. If each journalist could reach at least 1million people even when repeated, 700 million people would know Uganda for Chogm and the praises that came with it- at least for its leaders. 

But to its despair, the media did not –to the occasion’s hype- make good Uganda’s cause.  Or was the meeting dull? The international media reported proceedings, from the arrival of the queen, to the opening and closing ceremonies.

With media reporting that climate change took a soft turn at the Club Summit, perhaps it’s the CMAG announcement that Pervaiz Musharaf’s Pakistan was suspended from Commonwealth, that gave hacks something to write home about- but this was not about Uganda at all. 

For most of the local Press, to their own folly, was marvelled at the locally rare media operations and international colleagues whom they read over the internet or watch on T.V.  And could this be why they missed the real stories, and settled for headlines such as- “Inside the Queen’s Shs4m room” and “The Queen rejected State House food.”  Where they also too busy to work and settled for By-lines such as- “XXX and the Agencies.”   

The Ugandan government wanted the local press to put out stories on investment opportunities that the country has, and cover the Royal family with at most accuracy and of course spare the skeletons in governance for the time the party went on.                                                                                        

But the real stories were missed. Save for The EastAfrican which reported on a spared Museveni-person as the Summit kept busy with Pakistan and Climate Change (not because I work for it). 

Did anyone go down-town, in the thick of strokes of the baton, where a handful of demonstrators struggled to have their voices heard?  I know they did, but that picture was not seen in various reports.  Masses in Uganda like other developing countries would have loved to hear more talk on the real development factors needed to pace up development.  International trade, immigration policy, health, good governance, and the list continues.  But where ever these featured, it was flat rhetoric. 

Perhaps the party is only held in Africa, but some times is not really for Africa  


Politicians and businessmen are friends in the developing world! At least for climate change

November 29, 2007

When James Smith Chairman Shell UK asked developed Nations to back off the industrialisation drive in developing countries, I sighed for President Museveni who has been attempting to cut down forests for industry. 

But for the first time, I saw politicians and businessmen become bed fellows courtesy of climate change.  This time, it was not hustling over exploitative prices by businessmen against the electorate or politicians reviewing tax policy tantamount to ‘discouraging’ investment.  

No. Chogm in Kampala was the opportune time and place for ‘good’ but aggressive if not ‘selfish’ businessmen to ask the developed world not to tell the developing world what to do as far as reducing carbon emissions is concerned.  For heavens sake they don’t have to buy carbon credits here too! 

In other words do not tell the developing world to set targets for reducing carbon emissions, because you- the developed world are to a greater extent responsible for the world’s climate changing.  Second because the developing world has a right to industrialise too, which means it would need more energy to run machines and ensure air condition as it continues to suffer a warmer world now, thanks to greenhouse gas emissions over the past decades in the developed world. 

What struck me though, is that all business persons who publicly aired their views at the commonwealth business forum and argued from all possible angles in this line, run businesses that emit greenhouse gasses in significant amounts and are on an expansion drive in emerging markets in Asia and Africa.   

Shell for instance, Smith used his time at the podium to announce what his Company is doing to filter bad gases through new technologies and remind the developed world that it is because of their industrialisation era, that there is too much gas in the atmosphere today.  But he is also looking for money this side of the world, signing up new partners, positioning products to suit customers down here and working against all odds to create a love mark of Shell in the developing world. 

President Museveni of course nods, knowing that people now ‘understand’ that the developing world should not continue with environment protection while still leaving in a backward economy.  These days, when ever a new factory opens, there is always a story to write home about and the politician who officially opens it, often makes the News.   

I still do not know why this part of the Chogm final communiqué on climate change missed, given that a voice of 53-in-1 at Bali would definitely be heard.  Or was there a mutual compromise to warrant flat rhetoric of concepts that would inform commonwealth members’ position on climate change at subsequent more decisive summits like the post-kyoto talks in Bali, Indonesia. 

Could it be that Canada stuck to its position that no targets for reducing carbon emissions for some countries alone should be set, while other partners in the ‘crime’ like china and India remain exonerated.  Because, besides setting targets for emissions for developed countries, small states wanted the former to commit funds to help the later adapt to the effects of climate change and work mitigation measures too. 

What ever policy succeeds the Kyoto Protocol- it is still unpredictable… 

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November 29, 2007

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