PRESIDENT MUSEVENI COMMENDS UWA FOR EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES
I am honoured today to be part of this ceremony, where the Uganda Wildlife Authority is passing out 224 rangers. It is also noteworthy that on the same occasion, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) is handing over revenue sharing funds to six districts neighbouring Murchison Falls National Park.
I commend the organizers of this pass out occasion as well as the trainers who have devoted their time and effort to the training. Such training is a motivational tool to ensuring security, law and order of the entire area as well as equipping the participants with protection and security skills to effectively perform their duties.
Government has recognized the importance of tourism in the social economic transformation of the country; this is reflected in the recent National Development Plan II and Vision 2040 which highlighted tourism as a primary growth sector. Government has started supporting the regional tourism clusters of Bunyoro, Buganda Expo, Busoga Tourism Initiative, Kigezi Cluster, Eastern Tourism Forum and Culture and faith Based Initiatives ,eg Namugongo, linking with faith crusaders.
This is also aimed at boosting domestic tourism and eventually increasing revenue for the local population.
Government is to develop well planned Tourism stop over points along the highways to the tourism centres. So far, physical plans have been drawn for Muko, Busitema,Kafu and Corner Kamdini stop overs and Kibiro hot springs. Conservation of wildlife protected areas is key to sustainability of tourism resources.
This pass out occasion therefore fulfills the security objective of conserving our wildlife .Creation of the Tourism Police, increase in game rangers and strict border control have significantly reduced poaching and illegal trade in animals and their parts ,all of which have also contributed to the steady increase in wildlife populations in the country. Review of the Wildlife Act is also ongoing aimed at incorporating more stringent penalties for perpetrators of wildlife crime including poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
Government has prioritized infrastructure especially roads leading to Tourism centres for example Kabale-Kisoro-Bunagana road(101km)was completed, Kampala-Entebbe Express highway (51km) is underway, Ishaka-Kagamba road(35km) is being tarmacked while the ministry of Tourism has maintained a total 1,540 km of roads in all the wildlife protected areas.
The Tourism Sector, has emerged as the top foreign exchange earner with growth rates propelling the service sector, jobs and employment ,construction of hotels, restaurants, tourist facilities, and leisure spots and boosted the inter- linkages between other sectors .The sector’s impact on the economy is quite significant .
Uganda’s investment climate is very favorable and diverse in several sectors across the country .The NRM government’s aim is to invest in human resource development a primer to innovation and skills development so that we transition from basing our production principally on natural resources to tapping the products of the intellect, which are more superior .
Uganda is strengthening efforts to conserve its rich biodiversity .Resulting from this, wildlife populations in all protected areas have rebounded from dismal figures of the 1970s and 80s when the country was ravaged by war and political instability. Further evidence of Uganda’s remarkable tourism potential is the various accolades received in the past few years.
Uganda is regaining her position as a top African destination as it was in the 1960s.
The tourism sector which was prioritized as a primary growth sector in the 2010/11/2014/15 National Development Plan(NDP),once again has its own fully fledged Ministry of Tourism,Willdife and Antiquities to spearhead the process of harnessing Uganda’s tourism potential for economic development and social transformation. We believe that by promoting investment in tourism, we invariably support the whole economy through the creation of employment and additional investment opportunities.
In Uganda, we have packaged attractive investment incentives ranging from profit repatriation; tax holidays, facilitating importation of special tourist vehicles and property acquisition through a one stop centre, the Uganda Investment Authority.
Uganda offers attractive tourism investment opportunities in accommodation, hospitality training, tour operations and water based attraction development. Tourism is a green economy; it aspires for social inclusiveness and equality. The beauty about tourism industry is that it is largely a young people industry, strong on entrepreneurial skilling and has relatively low costs or barriers to entry. Although tourism is one of the major sectors contributing to the social and economic transformation of Uganda, we should not fail to be mindful of the negative effects of terrorism, drug trafficking, poaching, child labour and prostitution might be some of the problems that we may encounter in tourism. The tourists could use the cover of wildlife to come to our country .We don’t want terrorists masquerading as tourists.
After this pass out, you are going to be deployed in various units, where you will be required to perform to the best of your abilities. You don’t have to wait for the crimes to be committed. It is like the medical personnel, who should not wait for people to be sick. They should prevent sickness by immunization, hygiene and good nutrition.
Similarly, a good ranger should prevent crime by surveillance; instead of waiting until crime is committed and then you come to punish. Therefore, remember that you are now taking on the role of leadership.
You will learn to partner with the community in executing your duties-you are thus required to maintain a delicate balance between serving and being leaders to the community. Clearly, your ranger service cannot be successful in achieving their mission without the support and involvement of the people they serve.
The sharing of responsibility involves providing a mechanism for the community to collaborate with the police both in the identification of community problems and determining the most appropriate strategies for resolving them.
To the rangers, your service entails, among other things, integrity, principle, discipline, ethics and, above all, professionalism and patriotism.
You cannot claim to be a patriot if you do not love and care about the environment of Africa –the lakes, the rivers, the mountains, the soils, the pastures, the forests, etc. These are so vital for our survival that it is criminal not to care about them. You cannot be a patriot if you are ignorant of the history of Mankind and Human society.
On the same occasion as the ministry hands over revenue sharing funds to specific districts, I would like to reiterate that one of the major reforms initiated and implemented by Government is the decentralization policy. We opted for an elaborate form, devolution, and devolved a wide range of powers and functional responsibilities to Local Governments at various levels including fiscal, legislative, political, judicial and administrative.
The introduction of decentralization in Uganda coincided with the realization around Africa that a highly centralized approach to management of public affairs adopted soon after independence had failed to deliver good governance, reduction in poverty, or sustainable development. The adoption of this policy was, therefore, a bold and remarkable step in the right direction.
The decentralization policy was a policy instrument aimed at improving local democracy, efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability in the delivery of essential services countrywide; and above all decentralization is a tool of social transformation.
The hand over today is not routine but a means of ensuring accountability and transparency in utilization of government funds.
Accounting officers should therefore fully assess implementation of programs and take punitive and remedial actions against permanent secretaries and accounting officers who do not achieve set goals.
I am therefore happy to witness the hand over event.
I applaud and welcome the participation of all rangers in the training unto a good cause for service to your nation. As you perform your duty of helping to keep law and order in maintaining the wildlife species against poachers and encroachers, I look forward to working with you as partners in the development and transformation of our country.
I wish to appreciate the efforts of all those who have in one way or another contributed to the success of the course