Save Virunga supports IGEN-EA Vision for a Sustainable and Inclusive Economy for Generations to Come!

Today, May 21, 2021, a new network of Ugandans and East Africans from across civil society and the private sector have united to promote a new vision for a green East African economy and advocate for strategic investments across a diversity of sustainable, inclusive industries. Named the Inclusive Green Economy Network-East Africa (IGEN-EA), the network was officially launched in Kampala, Uganda today. 

The network`s mission is to support the realization of green economic investments in key sectors —including clean energy, sustainable agriculture and fishing, tourism and conservation—that create opportunities for all Ugandans, while also promoting environmental conservation, climate resilience and human rights protection.

The network was launched by a key Ugandan leader, Hon. Michael Mawanda, and the launch was participated in by political, technical, civil society and private sector leaders as well as community members that operate in Uganda and East Africa’s biggest green economic sectors such as small-scale organic agriculture, fisheries, tourism, clean energy and others.

“Uganda is endowed with natural resources such as forests, fertile soils, lakes and others that have sustained the Ugandan economy through supporting agriculture, fisheries and tourism and other economic activities.

Combined, the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism sectors contribute nearly 30,8% of Uganda’s GDP[1]. Yet these sectors are under-invested in by the Ugandan government. For instance, in the 2021/2022 budget, the agricultural sector, which employs the majority of Ugandans especially women, was allocated only UGX 500 billion. Security and infrastructural developments were allocated UGX 3.4 trillion and UGX 3.1 trillion respectively,” Mr. Dickens Kamugisha, who heads the IGEN-EA taskforce, says.

Mr. Hakim Baliraine, a leader of a small-scale farmers forum in Eastern and Southern Africa and an IGEN-EA taskforce member adds, agriculture is the significant economic activity for over 68% of households in Uganda most of whom are small scale farmers so “If more investments in the agricultural sector were made, more Ugandans would be lifted out of poverty as Uganda’s fortunes are tied to agriculture. Evidence from the World Bank indicates that significant increases in agricultural incomes reduce poverty [2].

Between 2006 and 2013 for instance, poverty reduction amongst agricultural families accounted for a 79% poverty reduction. The World Bank also estimates that with increased financing among others, the agricultural sector, which employs over 70% of Uganda’s population, was the biggest earner of export revenue with USD 1.82bn realized in 2015 contributed to about 25% of the DGP in 2015. (ministerial policy statement 2016/17 and UBS 2016 abstracts) ,e.g from Coffee, fish etc can catalyse development.” in addition to many others.

Benedict Ntale, a tourism sector leader says, “COVID-19 has badly affected tourism but the sector’s immense potential cannot be undermined. Before the COVID-19 pandemic for instance, the tourism sector contributed 25% of Uganda’s Foreign Exchange Earnings. This translated to $1.6 billion which is 7,7% of Uganda’s GDP!”

Estimates made pre-COVID-19 indicated that the industry could grow by 15-20% if every tourist stays one night longer in Uganda or if the number of leisure tourists goes up by 100,000. This target can be achieved if the tourism sector is invested in and our ecosensitive areas are conserved.

Unfortunately, tourism is only allocated 0.4 % of the national budget. Yet the tourism sector’s
potential is so immense, it can only be compared to agriculture in Uganda.”

Charity Migwi, a climate change campaigner with who is also an IGEN-EA taskforce member, however notes that Uganda’s pursuit of oil and gas exploitation which will worsen climate change, increase landlessness, cause environmental destruction and jeopardize the security of the country stands to hurt important green economic sectors such as agriculture, tourism and fishing that depend on good climate and environmental conservation. 

Esther Nyanzi, the leader of the Ugandan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Association (UNREEEA) and an IGEN-EA taskforce member says, “All of us under IGEN-EA are immensely hopeful that with our work together with citizen, government, development partners and financiers’ support, sustainable and meaningful green economic development that benefits all Ugandans can be attained. This is why today’s official launch of our network is a momentous occasion.”

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Source: IGEN-EA