Uganda is switched on to the green economy

Kampala has hosted policy makers and stakeholders from across Africa as Uganda continues to forge ahead as a ‘green economy’. 

Uganda’s fertile soil, regular rainfall, and strong year-round sunlight, give it the potential to become a green economic powerhouse, powered by organic agriculture and clean energy. The country has already made real progress in transforming conventional agricultural production into a world-leading organic farming system – creating jobs, delivering export income, and protecting the environment in the process.

Research has found that green economic policies could boost GDP by as much as 10%, delivering an extra US$3.4 billion in growth by 2020, all while creating 4 million new jobs and reducing carbon emissions by almost a third.

John Okiira, of Advocates Coalition for Development & Environment (ACODE), an independent public policy research and advocacy think tank, says: “Uganda’s high agricultural potential, burgeoning eco-tourism industry, and young and energetic population all provide a solid foundation for the transition to a green economy.”

Already, there are enabling policy, legal and institutional frameworks for green growth, including the Uganda Vision 2040, National Development Plan II and the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy.

Uganda has several initiatives aimed at greening the Ugandan economy. These include the Uganda Green Incubation Programme, a government project aimed at creating green employment, enhancing productivity, reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability, being piloted in Kampilingisa, central Uganda.

The Renewable Energy Business Incubator is a private sector initiative of green growth implemented by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Makerere University in close cooperation with The Royal Norwegian Society for Development (Norges Vel). Its mission is to build and stimulate renewable energy businesses that are financially and environmentally sustainable.

The Switch Africa Green Project supports the seven countries of Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa to achieve sustainable development. In the past four years, SWITCH Africa Green has provided 3,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with training, pilot demonstrations and skills-development on sustainable consumption and production practices, in economic sectors including agriculture, tourism, waste management, welding and trade.

Led by Switch Africa Green, the recent forum – with the theme Advancing Green Business and Circular Economy in Africa – was organised by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment.

Taking place 24-25 February in Kampala, stakeholders from partner countries, policymakers, business associations, the private sector, financial institutions, and international development organisations discussed the avenues and approaches to implementing a circular economy and scaling the continent’s green businesses.

A survey by UNEP shows that 64% of entrepreneurs in Phase I of SWITCH Africa Green experienced a positive impact on income generation and collectively achieved average annual cost savings of $7 million by improving efficiency through eco-innovation, energy efficiency & H2O efficiency.

“The Switch Africa Green Programme already promotes circular approaches, including the promotion of biogas technology; E-waste management; promoting organic agriculture, green manufacturing and eco-industrial parks, and through standards and labelling in the hotel industry, among others,” said Frank Turyatunga, Deputy Director of UNEP’s Africa Office. “It is important that the lessons learnt and knowledge shared among countries result in regional harmonisation of policies and ensure maximum impact and effective implementation at the national level.”

Dr. Tom Okurut, the Executive Director of Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority, added: “Key enablers for the transition include access to green financing, enabling policies and standards, awareness, networking and green businesses with innovative solutions.”

(via UNEP, Green Economy Coalition, National Planning Authority Uganda)