Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of State for Housing, Lands and Urban Development, has confessed that it is way too hard for one to become a minister in Sub Saharan Africa.
“I’m the MP who represents gorillas in parliament,” Baryomunsi, the Kinkizi East legislator, introduced himself, sending the audience in bouts of laughter.
He was on Tuesday opening a 4-day training workshop on “Supporting African Municipalities in Sustainable Energy Transitions [SAMSET]” at the main campus located along Jinja road in the capital Kampala.
He reminded participants who had come to Uganda for the first time that “You haven’t been to Africa unless you have come to Uganda” which he emphasised was indeed the Pearl of Africa as suggested by former British prime minister, Winston Churchill, in 1907.
Baryomunsi also hinted at archaeological theories, which suggest the first human being lived on the Mountains of the Moon concluding that he could be “an original man”.
The minister then turned attention to energy, which he related to housing as one of the major challenges “of being a minister in a country in sub Saharan Africa”.
“Being a minister is not such a great thing or big privilege. It’s hard,” he said, explaining that he finds it hard to improve the quality of life and living conditions of the people he represents.
Baryomunsi said energy is vital to the economy, transport and personal welfare because it touches all aspects of life.
“Africa has a growing concern of welfare of its people. The quality of life in Africa still lags behind compared to America and Europe.”
He cited an example of the air quality in slums which threatens life and health of the citizens.
The minister acknowledged that whereas Africa has a great potential of mineral resources and abundance in wealth, leaders have failed to help their people come out of poverty, and live better lives.
“Africa is shaped like a big question with Madagascar as its dot. The answers to that question must come from us leaders, elite and academicians.”
He added: “We have failed to translate wealth into energy sources.”
Baryomunsi said even the people who migrate from villages to seek a better life in town, just bring rural life to urbanised set up because most African towns are still poor.
“There are challenges of squalid and informal settlements and shanty settlements in Africa. We need to invest in planning for our people.”
He suggested skilling experts and creating an enabling environment at the grassroots with practical initiatives to help people improve their lives.