In northern Uganda, there?s hope for an eventual peace settlement between the Lords Resistance Army and the government. For nearly 20 years, the government has devoted a large portion of its budget for the military. Today, the two antagonists have signed a truce and are working toward a permanent peace settlement. Observers say if that indeed comes to pass, the country could see vast improvements in its economy.
Peter Wamboga-Mugirya is a science and technology journalist in Kampala and a contributor to a number of publications, including the regional Farmers? Voice and the London-based web page, Science and Development Network.
Wamboga-Mugirya told VOA English to Africa Service reporter William Eagle that sectors like education, health and agriculture could rebound if permanent peace comes to Uganda.
He says the north is a fertile plateau, a part of the Nile River valley, and a former contributor of cassava and of grains like maize, sorghum and millet. Wamboga-Mugirya says its cotton could contribute to the country?s textile industry, which has received an export boost with the US legislation called the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. The north is also a large producer of oil seeds, like sunflower, sesame, groundnuts and soybeans.
?So if we had (and end to) the war?we shall see this region bouncing back,? says Wamboga-Mugirya. ?The press team (of the vice president of Uganda) told me that people are already growing crops (in the north) since there?s been relative peace.?
Northern Uganda also benefits by its proximity to southern Sudan, a mostly Christian and animist part of that country, which recently ended a war with the northern-based and predominantly Arab government in Khartoum. Wamboga-Mugirya says there?s a potential for a China-financed railway line between the northwestern town of Packwach in Uganda and Juba, Sudan.
?Remember,? he says,? that southern Sudan is three times bigger than Uganda but depends on Uganda for consumer goods like petroleum products and for sugar, salt and soap.? It also requires food stuffs, nurses and doctors. There?s a huge potential to supply Kenya and Tanzania through Uganda.
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