Ugandan businessmen and conservationists have agreed to engage in more dialogue with each other rather than conflict in the quest to achieve development for Uganda. During a two-day meeting held at Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park on 18th and 19th March 2007, the two launched a new initiative codenamed Leadership for Conservation and Sustainable Development in Uganda under which businessmen and conservationists in Uganda will be mobilised and sensitised to understand and appreciate each other’s roles in the country’s development process.
An interim steering committee comprising three businessmen and three conservationists was named at the end of the meeting, and this will be chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Trade and Industry (MTTI), Dr. Sam Nahamya who will be deputised by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Mr. Andrew Kasirye.
The members of the committee include:-
Dr. Sam Nahamya – Permanent Secretary for MTTI (Chairman)
Mr. Andrew Kasirye – Chairman, Board of Trustees for UWA (Deputy Chairman)
Mr. Gordon Wavamunno – Chairman, Spear Motors Group of Companies
Mr. Elly Karuhanga – Executive President, Hardman Petroleum Africa Ltd
Mr. George Nisbet – Managing Director, Century Bottling Company
Mr. Denis Kashero – Commercial Manager
Mr. Edward Rugumayo – Mountains of the Moon University
Mr. Phillip Karugaba – MMAKS Advocates
Mrs. Hope Rwaguma – Ag. Executive Director, National Forestry Authority
IUCN, an international NGO, will be the secretariat where all the activities of the initiative will be co-ordinated.
The priority actions for the Interim Steering Committee include mobilising businessmen and conservationists to join this initiative and to develop a strategic plan of activities.
The concept of bringing businessmen and conservationists into formal dialogue began in August 2006 with the launch in South Africa of the Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA) initiative, which seeks to promote conservation-led development in Africa by establishing similar initiatives in several African countries aimed at creating a close working relationship between the two groups. The UWA Executive Director, Mr. Moses Mapesa represents Uganda on the African Regional Executive Committee.
Other African countries where businessmen and conservationists are working closely include Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.
It was however agreed during the Mweya meeting to change the name of the Ugandan initiative to Leadership for Conservation and Sustainable Development in Uganda.
The Leadership for Conservation in Africa initiative also aims to show that conservation must support development and vice versa.
“We can’t conserve for the sake of conserving,” Prof. Fredrick Kayanja, former Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees said during the meeting, further observing that development must support conservation and actively engage the businessmen in dialogue as the way forward in order to achieve a win-win position.
The Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mr. Moses Mapesa said that Leadership for Conservation and Sustainable Development in Uganda is expected to help reduce the conflicts that have characterised the relationship between businessmen and conservationists.
“We need to avoid confrontation and blame, and instead encourage sharing of knowledge, skills and resources among ourselves. There should be a mutual agreement between conservationists and businessmen to actively work together for the development of Uganda and conservation of our natural heritage,” Mapesa observed.
The Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees, Mr. Andrew Kasirye said that there is need to explore ways of making conservation relevant to the country and to the societies we live in.
The Executive President of Hardman Petroleum Pty Ltd, Mr. Elly Karuhanga said that there is a need to mobilise businessmen in Uganda and sensitise them about conservation issues.