Uganda Revenue authority officials tend to taxpayers during customer appreciation week in Kampala. Photo: Morgan Mbabazi/World Bank.
Less than one million people and about 40,000 firms are registered as tax payers in Uganda. That’s less than 7% of the total working age population, and less than 10% of firms with a fixed location, respectively.
Persuasion does not always involve an epiphany. Often, attitudes are formed and opinions are shaped by the steady accumulation of evidence and examples. And so, it has been for me when it comes to blended finance.
While anecdotes of transformation may be catchier, the gradual absorption of the work of experts and practitioners is frequently how one’s thinking evolves. I left the recent 2018 Global Water Summit not feeling transformed or possessed by the idea that blended finance is THE solution for bridging the humongous financial gap required to meet SDG6, but more convinced than ever it has a key role to play. I was also positively surprised that this financial solution is no longer an exotic stranger to our sector and that a significant number of water supply and sanitation (WSS) practitioners are implementing blended finance schemes.
In December 2017, Josephine Karungi, a renowned TV host, invited me to share my story as a domestic violence survivor on her show “Perspectives with Josephine Karungi.” To say I was scared beyond my wits would be an understatement, and yet I still gladly wore my orange dress and boldly roared.
It has now been more than five months since the last case of female murders was reported in Entebbe.
Between July and September 2017, 23 women were brutally attacked, battered, raped and murdered by strangulation. Wooden sticks were found inserted in their private parts, each left for dead in the cold town near Lake Victoria, and with them - a wake of fear among women across the country. By the 17th murder, former Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, broke the silence by blaming the murders on jilted lovers, arresting 44 murder suspects and charging 22 in courts of law.
How much food is produced on a plot of land? The answer is central to several pressing questions in agricultural and development economics: How efficiently do smallholders use their labor and land? What interventions are most effective at lifting smallholders out of poverty? Are smallholders better off investing more time and resources on the farm, or intensifying their reliance on off-farm employment? The answers in part depend on the ability to accurately measure crop production. This is why household and farm surveys across the developing world, such as those supported by the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) initiative, attempt to obtain precise, within-farm measures of crop production and productivity.
The informal sector is a large part of employment in African cities. The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 66% of total employment in Sub-Saharan African is in the informal sector. With a pervasive informal sector, city governments have been struggling with how best to respond. On the one hand, a large informal sector often adds to city congestion, through informal vending and transport services, and does not contribute to city revenue. Furthermore, informal enterprises are typically characterized by low productivity, low wages and non-exportable goods and services. On the other hand, the informal sector provides crucial livelihoods to the most vulnerable of the urban poor.
With this idea in mind, and the powerful belief that "brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not," Andela, founded four years ago, began recruiting recent graduates in Africa with the mission of connecting them to job opportunities in high-tech companies. Today, about 650 developers in Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala work full-time for over 100 firms spread across 45 cities worldwide.
Last year, I attended the African Great Lakes Conference in Entebbe, Uganda, joining over 300 specialists who presented on a wide range of water issues. The highlight of the conference, for me, was visiting the Integrated Community Environmental Conservation project in Arul village, Kigungu, in Entebbe.
The project aims to reduce bio-diversity loss, pollution of international waters of Lake Victoria, land degradation, and address some effects of climate change. The fact that the project was managed by a women’s empowerment network made the prospects of the visit more interesting. Mainstreaming gender in environmental and conservation work is an issue that needs to be addressed.