A group of students taking the BI course Development Studies: Trade, Aid and Microfinance embarked in October on a study trip to Uganda with Professor Anne Welle-Strand.
The course engages students in debates on the past, present and future features of world development. It provides an overview of the different theories used to analyze socio-economic development, and the Uganda trip was an excellent opportunity to supplement theory with practical insight from Uganda’s development experience.
The group had a diverse make-up, with students from China, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Russia, Sweden and Norway bringing their unique perspectives to the discussions. The different nationalities and academic backgrounds of the students was made for interesting debates.
Reception with business leaders
The week debuted with a visit to the Norwegian Embassy and a series of talks with Norwegian diplomats in Kampala. H.E. Ambassador Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther then hosted a reception for the BI group. At the reception more than 50 of “the business leaders of today”, including Norwegian investors, Ugandan business leaders, the head of the Ugandan Employers Association and representatives from several NGOs were present.
Visit to the Makarere University Business School
One of the highlights was the visit to Makarere University Business School and meeting with its Principal, Professor Waswa Balunywa. The Professor, who served as an economic advisor for the President and is currently a board member of the Central Bank of Uganda, provided an introduction to the country’s economic history. He emphasized the devastating effects of Idi Amin’s rule on Ugandan bureaucracy and the country’s manufacturing capacity and the positive growth record since the current president Yoweri Museveni launched his liberalizing policies in 1987. He argued that agriculture, specifically more efficient coffee production, was the main way out of poverty for Ugandans. However, in order to achieve this, reforms of both Ugandan laws on land ownership and WTO rules on imports of agricultural products are necessary.
The group also spent a day visiting an orphanage and Jacobsen Electro Namamve Power Plant. The latter a thermal power plant built by a Norwegian company.
Apart from the rich academic content of the study trip, the students returned home with great stories and memories from their tourist escapades. Travelling to the city of Jinja they went on a full day rafting trip down the Nile.