The World Bank on September 27celebrated 50 years of presence in Uganda. These have been years of achievement. Hardly is there a sector where the hand of the World Bank is not felt in Uganda.

Whereas the bank has lent support to Uganda and East Africa in general, we cannot keep relying on it for our national development strategy and goals.

We need to start seriously thinking about taking on the challenge of developing our region ourselves. The World Bank and many financial and foreign governments have provided much needed financing in many sectors to ensure that our economies take off.

But after 50 years in the case of Uganda, isn’t it time to ask “ How much longer must we depend on foreign aid?”

Obviously we cannot say we no longer need help. Even super economies still run to the World Bank and other institutions for help whenever threatened. But what matters is the degree of dependability.

A few years ago, Uganda’s budget like many in Africa and the developing world, was largely financed by lender organizations. But strict accountability from bodies like the World Bank has enforced some financial discipline to the extent that revenue collection has improved and now Uganda hopes to foot 80% of her budget.

Though this remains little compared to the national goal of self sustainability, it is a milestone compared to 10 years ago when the country could hardly manage to foot 40% of its budget.

Reduction in borrowing will require strict accountability, tight fiscal discipline, hard work and ensuring that priorities such as infrastructure are given the attention they deserve.

Above all there has to be a lot of sacrifice especially in the civil service and among senior government officials so that whatever money is allocated for a project, task or responsibility, goes to that particular item.

When we finally are able to fund our budget we shall still need the World Bank for technical support and planning in especially new sectors which may crop up such as the oil find in Uganda.

There is a growing feeling that the World Bank has largely funded infrastructure projects like roads and energy leaving out vital areas like Agriculture. Whereas this is not true, it is vital that the World Bank be seen as body that identifies with the common person by coming up with projects in rural areas that can enhance its presence among the population.

For now there is reason to maintain this relationship that has helped develop Uganda for 50 years.

But first the leadership must understand that apart from devising policies, laws and signing agreements, the citizens, who are supposed to be the major beneficiaries of such schemes, must be made to understand the role each has to play to be able to shoulder the challenge of development as a nation without relying on institutions like the World Bank.

This requires massive mobilisation such as the efforts put in managing the HIV/AIDS challenge from the late 1980s to the present day or better still door to door mobilisationb to the scale such as during canvassing for votes or tracing epidemic patients like in case of Ebola outbreaks.

In such scenarios media messages play an important role but better still human to human interface yields quick and rapid reaction such that what appears to be a national crisis is averted quickly.

For now we can only say ‘Thank you’ World Bank.

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