The issue: Saving the environment.
Our view: What if we set out to develop the technology to make solar cookers? Imagine how many trees would be saved, and how good would that be to our environment.
In recent months, there has been a welcome reawakening in the push to save our environment. Many government officials are speaking with the same voice on conserving wetlands, forests and other environmental resources, although there is a scare from commercial sand miners and other businesspeople who want to make money at the expense of the environment.
Challenges still remain, but if one takes a longer term review of how the war to protect the environment has been executed in this country, happily, the findings will be that the government’s attitude towards protecting the environment has changed for the better in recent years.
What usually puts most pressure on the environment, is agreed - the need to make money. Industrialists and businesspeople, if unchecked, can do the worst damage possible to our environment in a bid to make money, unless the authority in charge effectively checks them.
In recent years, Uganda, and President Museveni in particular, has been singing the old song of industrialisation more loudly. A number of projects, most notably, the Kiira EV Project that seeks to graduate Uganda into a car-making country, have been flagged off.
Making cars and other pieces of technology would be amazing, of course. But many will agree that Uganda is unlikely to compete favourably with countries that have been making cars for centuries.
On a happy note, there are areas where we can compete if all our resources were galvanised to pursue a common goal. To start with, we have an engineering brigade in the UPDF. What if we set out to develop the technology to make solar cookers?
Developing the technology may not be very difficult given the advancement of science. If we develop it, there will be a ready market because every household in the country will, and should, find it more worthwhile to cook on a solar gadget than to use hydroelectric power, for instance. Imagine how many trees would be saved, and how good would that be to our environment. Well over 90 per cent of Ugandans still rely on wood fuel.
It is easy to imagine that the technology to make solar cookers is fairly simple. The problem is that large companies in the industrialised world which have already invested in gadgets that use other sources of energy will fight to ensure that they don’t lose their market.
If Uganda is to move forward and break new ground, the government has to be thinking about such projects.