College of Health Sciences (CHS)
A molecular phylogenetic and modelling approach towards understanding the transmission dynamics and genetic diversity of HIV-1 in the fishing communities of Lake Victoria, Uganda
Dr. BBOSA Nicholas used molecular phylogenetic and modelling approaches to dissect the transmission dynamics of HIV in the fishing communities of Lake Victoria. The fishing communities are disproportionately affected by HIV relative to the general population and for a long time, the dynamics of HIV transmission were not well understood. His research revealed for the first time in Uganda that the fishing communities were a sink for HIV transmission from the general population and negated the generally held assumption of the fishing communities being viral reservoirs. The findings have contributed towards informing public health policies on the implementation of targeted interventions for effective HIV epidemic control in most at-risk populations. This study was funded by the UK Medical research council, and was supervised by Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, Prof. Andrew Leigh-Brown, Dr. Bernard S. Bagaya, Assoc. Prof Noah Kiwanuka and Dr. Rebecca N. Nsubuga.
Molecular characterization and rapid detection of Vibrio cholerae in Uganda: the relationship between human pathogens and aquatic environment.
Dr. BWIRE Godfrey studied Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria responsible for repeated cholera outbreaks in Uganda to determine their genetic profile, spread, transmission, virulence, aquatic environmental reservoirs and a field cholera rapid diagnostic test (RDT). The study found that cholera outbreaks in Uganda were due to three genetically related V. cholerae clones. The clones showed transmission within Uganda, East and Central African regions. The surface water sources in Uganda were possibly not reservoirs for the epidemic V. cholerae. The accuracy of the cholera RDT, a modified Crystal VC® dipsticks was high. This study enhances our understanding of cholera outbreaks and may help in prevention, control and elimination of cholera in Uganda. The study was jointly funded by the Uganda Ministry of Health and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (USA) and supervised by Prof. Christopher Garimoi Orach (MakSPH) and Prof. David Allen Sack (John Hopkins University, USA).
Human B and T cell responses to novel Schistosoma mansoni skin-stage antigens
Mr. EGESA Moses studied human immune responses to parasite components expressed at the vulnerable skin larva stage of the human blood fluke, Schistosoma. It was not known how endemic populations respond to recombinant components of the larvae and how these immune responses relate with intensity of infection when people get re-infected. The recombinant antigens induced inflammatory cytokine responses. Additionally, antibodies to these antigens were detectable and were affected by treatment. Although not associated with reinfection intensity, the information generated informs the selection and prioritization of vaccine targets. This study was funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award and the DELTAS Africa Initiative and supported by European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme, and was supervised by Dr. Bernard Bagaya, Prof. Maria Yazdanbakhsh and Dr. Stephen Cose.
Sodium intake in post-stroke patients – its influence on blood pressure, knowledge and perceptions and stroke outcomes in Uganda
Dr. KADDUMUKASA Martin’s thesis focuses on salt intake and cardiovascular stroke. He estimates the daily intake and its association with blood pressure and stroke. He further investigates knowledge, perceptions, and consumption decisions after stroke. He uses 24-hour urine to determine the salt intake in stroke patients. He notes that stroke survivors with high blood pressure have twice the levels of salt compared to stroke survivors without blood pressure. Poor knowledge, perceptions, and salt use beliefs. Finally, a high frequency of stroke recurrence and death was observed in this group. This study recommends primary stroke prevention through salt intake reduction and population salt awareness through education. This study was supported by NIH MEPI-linked Neurology Award (No. 5R24TW008886), Fogarty International Centre and was supervised by Prof. E. Katabira, Prof. Martha Sajatovic, Prof. Larry Goldstein and Dr. Pundik.
Hypertension in Uganda: epidemiology and association with HIV infection and genetics
Dr. KAYIMA James investigated the association of HIV infection and selected genes with blood pressure traits among Ugandans. He observed that, unlike the western populations, the frequency of hypertension was lower among HIV-infected compared to uninfected subjects in Uganda. Further, he uncovered the profound negative effect of SUB/NPR3 gene on systolic blood pressure. These finding suggest a protective effect of HIV on hypertension; and a potential modifying effect of SUB/NPR3 gene on hypertension in African populations. This work elucidates the role of HIV and population-specific genetic factors in the control of hypertension risk. It builds a foundation for formulation of prevention efforts for cardiovascular disease among high-risk groups; and for pharmacogenetic studies to identify appropriate medication for hypertensive black populations. This study was funded by Medical Education Partnership Initiative on Cardiovascular Disease (MEPI-CVD), and was supervised by Dr. Achilles Katamba, Prof. Harriet Mayanja Kizza, Prof. Xiaofeng Zhu and Prof. Mahboob Rahman.
Functional host-genetic loci associated with pediatric HIV-disease progression in Uganda and Botswana
Dr. MBOOWA Gerald used genomics and bioinformatics approaches to identify a set of genes that informs us which person if HIV-infected will take many years to develop AIDS (symptoms) without HIV-treatment. His research revealed that following HIV infection, there are two groups of people; Rapid-AIDS progressors (develop symptoms in 3-years or less after infection) and Long-term non-progressors (>10-years to develop symptoms) without HIV-treatment. These findings have implications for the current “Test-and-Treat and Treat-for-Life” HIV-treatment policy; when one tests HIV-positive and started on treatment-for-life exposing them to drugs’ dangerous side-effects yet some HIV-infected people have nature ability to stay for many years without developing symptoms in absence of HIV-treatment. This study was funded by the Collaborative African Genomics Network-(CAfGEN) and Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa-(THRiVE-2), and supervised by Prof Moses Joloba and Dr. David Kateete.
MPIMBAZA Arthur Mwambari
Determinants of severe malaria among children hospitalised at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda
Dr. MPIMBAZA Arthur Mwambari studied determinants of severe malaria among children in the Busoga sub-region. Risk factors for severe malaria included delayed care seeking by more than 24 hours after fever onset and seeking care at a drug shop as the initial response. For convenience, drug shops were the most common provider sought by caregivers of children with severe malaria. However, drug shops offered sub-optimal healthcare services compared to public health facilities. Hemoglobin S heterozygotes, alpha thalassemia heterozygosity and homozygosity were associated with protection against severe malaria. Drug shops were a problem, contributing to delay and severe malaria. The role of drug shops in caring for children with malaria needs to be re-evaluated and services at public health facilities strengthened. This study was funded by NIH Fogarty International Center (TW009343 and TW007375) and was supervised by Assoc. Prof. Charles Karamagi, Prof. Anne Katahoire, Grace Ndeezi and Philip J Rosenthal.
NABATANZI Rose (Ms)
Innate immune system recovery after long-term antiretroviral therapy in an African cohort
Dr. NABATANZI Rose studied whether key blood cell populations of HIV infected adults recover completely after at least seven years of treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART). This research found that despite at least seven years of effective ART, key first line defence cells among HIV-infected individuals were still fewer and produced low chemical mediators of first line defence against invading germs; compared with age-matched healthy HIV uninfected individuals. More emphasis should be put on ways of improving the body’s defence system for individuals on long-term ART to levels comparable to HIV-uninfected individuals, to prevent or delay HIV-associated complications among adults aging with the disease. This study was funded by DELTAS Africa Initiative, the Wellcome Trust and UK government and Alliance for Global Health and Science at University of California, Berkeley, USA; and was supervised by Prof. Damalie Nakanjako, Prof. Moses Joloba, Prof. Stephen Cose and Prof. Sarah Rowland Jones.
NAJJUKA Christine Florence (Ms)
Characterisation of extended spectrum Beta lactamases elaborated in Enterobactereaceae in Uganda
Dr. NAJJUKA Christine Florence investigated the prevalence of Extended Spectrum beta-Lactamases (ESBLs), the factors associated with gastrointestinal carriage, genotypes, transmission dynamics and co-resistance among clients attending outpatient clinics in Kampala, Kayunga and Mpigi Districts. She found predominance of cefotaximase in Kampala and presence of plasmid-mediated AmpC beta-lactamase genes, especially in ceftriaxone-susceptible Escherichia coli. Use of ciprofloxacin, inoculation and routine health follow up were risk factors, while rural residency and visiting lower health centres were protective of carriage of resistant bacteria. Transmission was predominantly by horizontal gene transfer of cefotaximase with at least two non-beta-lactam resistance genes. The findings inform widespread gut colonisation by bacteria resistant to 3rd generation cephalosporins and commonly used non beta-lactam agents, a source for transmission and infection with unpredictable and limited treatment options. This study was funded by Sida-Makerere Bilateral Research Programme and the Carnegie Cooperation of New York, and was supervised by Prof. Moses L. Joloba and Prof. Sabiha Y. Essack.
Creating and institutionalizing supports for evidence-informed decision making, including a rapid response service, in the Burkina Faso health system
Dr. ZIDA Andre’s research focused on decision making in the Burkina Faso health system. His investigation focused on the institutionalization of a policy support unit called rapid response to provide evidence for urgent decision-making. The study showed that the institutionalization of decision support units demands a robust framework and political will. It can be non-linear, and it depends on the leadership of unit managers to implement relevant activities, mobilize funding, and recruit and maintain sufficient human resources. This study developed a clear roadmap for evidence-informed decision-making and policy unit institutionalization. This study was funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the European Union, and was supervised by Prof. Nelson K. Sewankambo, John N. Lavis and Dr. Bocar Kouyate.
Please click the links below to navigate to the PhD Citations for the respective Sessions.
Prof. Sachs Expresses Optimism about Africa’s Economic Growth, PDMs Success
The Government of Uganda has been called upon to put in place measures to ensure the effective implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme. The call was made at a High-Level Policy Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Authority and Makerere University.
Hosted by Makerere University on Wednesday 28th February 2024 at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, the Dialogue was based on the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through leveraging Innovating Financing, the Parish Development Model, and Science and Technology”. During the dialogue, the government was urged to set up institutions that can track the usage of the program funds to ensure that the over Shs1 Trillion pumped into the program annually does not go to waste.
This call was made by Prof Ezra Suruma, the Chancellor Emeritus of Makerere University and Uganda’s former Minister of Finance, who was a panelist at the dialogue. Hon Suruma warned that currently, it is difficult to assess the achievements of PDM since there is no clear monitoring of the projects at the parish level where the money is being invested.
“In Uganda, we are investing Shs 1 Trillion in the 10,594 parishes, but if you ask where it is going, you can’t find it. The PDM money is capital that the government is attempting to invest in our country and that capital is supposed to accumulate over time. If we invest Shs1 Trillion this year, next year we should have more than that,” Prof. Suruma said.
The Chancellor Emeritus as such, called for the establishment of an institution that can trace where the PDM funds are being invested so that this money is treated as an investment and not consumption.
Minister for Local Government Hon Raphael Magyezi however, assured Prof Suruma and the audience that implementation of the PDM program is highly monitored and leakages are extremely minimal. This, he said, was because the government decided to digitalize payments of the PDM money directly from the Treasury to the parish-based SACCOs. Furthermore, he noted that Government has put in place the PDM Management Information System (MIS) in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasis on data for development.
“We have developed our own Management Information System so that we know which household is actually in subsistence, and we have parameters for that, and we are able to monitor and evaluate our programme based on a tracker system” Hon. Magyezi explained.
The Minister further noted that PDM targets 8.9 million households in Uganda, 39% (3.4 million) of which are still engaged in subsistence, with 1 million of these reached so far. He admitted although the PDM still has its work cut out, the Government is proud of the progress so far. Hon. Magyezi shared that Uganda has 145 establishments at the level of Local Council 5 consisting of 135 Districts and 10 Cities, 2,284 Sub-Counties to supervise the parishes and under the parishes, 70,626 villages.
The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja who was Chief Guest at the lecture shared that PDM is the Government of Uganda’s second key strategy for accelerating the SDGs and commended the Model as a “comprehensive strategy to uplift the incomes and welfare of all Ugandans.” The first key strategy is Leveraging Innovative Financing Mechanisms, while the third is putting more focus on Science, Technology and Innovation.
Rt. Hon. Nabbanja highlighted the government’s commitment to harnessing the power of research and innovation to provide a strong foundation to advance the digital agenda. She added that the PDM Laboratory at Makerere gives the University an opportunity to amplify and support efficiency and effectiveness of the programme’s implementation.
“Therefore, the PDM Laboratory should continue to be a platform for 1) Distilling and providing additional insights, 2) Commissioning further research and enquiry on the basis of information provided by the technical units and feedback and 3) Analyse feedback to test out policies and operational issues for Cabinet to take action” remarked the Prime Minister.
She informed the audience that Prof. Jeffrey Sachs is leading similar efforts with a lab at Columbia University and urged the leadership of Makerere University to establish a collaboration with Columbia University, “and I’m sure Prof. Sachs is much willing to support this”.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned Economist, leader in sustainable development, and senior UN advisor delivered a keynote address in which he expressed optimism about development prospects on the African continent.
The prolific economist and author, projected that Africa would take off and become a global economic force in the next 40 years if it could find ways of uniting into a single economic block.
Citing China and India Prof. Sachs advised the government to set targets and also set instruments to help achieve these targets, if the country is to achieve the SDGs. The simple idea of “targets and instruments” was developed by Nobel Prize Laureate Jan Tinbergen. Tinbergen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Economics in 1969 together with Ragnar Frisch.
Prof. Sachs defined Sustainable Development as the result of achieving four difficult objectives namely; Material wellbeing for everybody, Social inclusion, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace and Cooperation. He nevertheless shared that these can be achieved by Tinbergen’s “targets and instruments” idea.
He advised Uganda to copy China and invest in six major types of capital namely; Education, Infrastructure, Massive Interconnected Infrastructure, Protecting Natural Capital such as clean energy sources, Intellectual/Science and Technology Capital as well as Business Capital. On financing, he advised the government to find flexible and low interest financing with 40 year maturity if it is for sectors such as education.
“What I want to promise you, though I can’t give you the final answer for that part of innovative financing, we are going to get it done. Uganda is going to show a strong NDP IV, it is going to show a very robust plan to achieve rapid growth over the next 40 years, it is going to show that that rapid growth easily repays any long-term low-interest loans that have taken to achieve that, it is going to make the case that the Parish Development Model proves the last mile in an ingenious way, and that institutionally this country is poised for the breakthrough that we are talking about at the regional, national and local level” Prof. Sachs summed up.
In her remarks, Ms. Nwanneakolam Vwede-Obahor, the UNDP Resident Representative warned of Uganda’s widening development financing gap, standing currently at 33 trillion shillings (US$ 8.8 billion) annually.
“Traditional financing sources such as domestic taxes, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), concessional loans from external partners, borrowing from the domestic market and foreign direct investment are not enough to finance the SDGs,” she said.
“Uganda must explore alternative avenues to secure affordable and flexible financing to drive the development phase in the next seven years. This will involve continuous alignment of the budget allocations and development plans with SDG priorities, diversifying funding sources, including public-private partnerships and unlocking new innovative financing models, and enhancing financial resilience.”
The dignitaries, accompanied by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, toured the state-of-the-art Innovation Pod, which is poised to drive innovation and research in the country. In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor said that Makerere remains focused on implementing strategies and programmes under SDG 4 which emphasizes Quality Education. “I am therefore pleased that today, as we continue the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, Makerere University is on board hosting Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, the Office of the Prime Minister, National Planning Authority, UNDP, and a number of stakeholders to enhance the discussion on leveraging innovative financing, the parish development model and science and technology.”
Prof. Nawangwe shared with the audience, Makerere’s readiness to contribute to the success of the PDM, citing the role of the PDM Policy lab headed by Prof. Eria Hisali. The PDM Policy lab conducted capacity building to sensitise low-income earners about government programs and how they can utilize the funds to improve their standards of living. The lab continues to undertake research on how to effectively implement PDM. The Vice Chancellor equally shared Makerere University’s commitment to undertaking research and programmes aimed at ensuring that health becomes a priority on the global agenda through the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health (CESH). Established in partnership with the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, CESH’s core activities include; Capacity development and Education, Tools and resources, Networks and partnerships, and Research.
Students Disciplinary Committee Sworn In, Urged to Uphold Professionalism, Ethics & Integrity
Members of the Makerere University Students Disciplinary Committee were on Thursday 29th February 2024 sworn in at a ceremony presided over by the Chairperson of Council represented by Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba, the Chairperson Student Affairs Committee of Council. The oaths, administered by Counsel Balondemu Kenneth, were witnessed by the Vice Chancellor represented by Prof. Henry Alinaitwe the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Chairperson of the Students Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba, University Secretary, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Ms. Phiona Natukunda, and other officials.
Members of the Committee sworn in included;
- Hon. Beatrice Kiraso,
- Prof. Godfrey Akileng,
- Prof. Sylvia Antonia Nakimera Nannyonga-Tamusuza, and
- Rev. Dr. Lydia Nsaale Kitayimbwa.
Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba on behalf of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Members of Council congratulated the members upon being sworn in and expressed confidence that they are going to exercise their duty and mandate very well. “I am excited to see gallant and very committed members of our community who have decided to take part of their precious time to uphold the values and principles of this esteemed institution.”
Recognizing the paramount role of the Disciplinary Committee in fostering an environment conducive to the conduct of academic affairs, and where respect, integrity and discipline thrive, Mr. Ssejjoba urged newly sworn in members to strive to ensure that Makerere remains a centre of excellence not only in academics but also character formation and social conduct.
“Your commitment to fairness, impartiality and due process will be the cornerstone of your service. As you undertake this duty, I urge you to approach every case with empathy, with understanding and with a commitment to justice” he added.
Mr. Ssejjoba urged the Committee Members to always remember that their decisions will shape the lives of students and impact the future of the institution. “The trust bestowed upon you comes with great responsibility. Uphold the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and integrity in all your endeavours. Let your actions reflect the values that Makerere University stands for.”
The Chairperson, Makerere University Students Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba who was officially sworn in on 18th March 2022 is yet to complete his term and as such, was not required to take oath. Addressing the gathering, he thanked the Chairperson of the Student Affairs Committee, the Vice Chancellor and Members of Management for sparing time to witness the event. He extended gratitude to the newly sworn-in members for sacrificing time to serve Makerere, noting that Committee proceedings sometimes last an entire day.
In the same breath, Mr. Kyagaba thanked the University Management and Directorate of Legal Affairs represented by Ms. Phiona Natukunda for supporting the Committee in the execution of its duties. He nevertheless urged the University Officials to ensure that all the cases brought before the Committee have sufficient supporting evidence to enable them be disposed of quickly and permit the accused to proceed with their academic programmes.
Prof. Henry Alinaitwe in his remarks thanked the Chairperson and Members of the Disciplinary Committee for accepting to serve Makerere, noting that discipline; be it of staff, students or stakeholders, is very important especially for an academic institution. He added that unlike past decades where the student population was smaller, today’s population is bigger and demands more attention.
He decried past disturbances on the campus that led to destruction of property and loss of life and reiterated Management’s zero-tolerance to acts that go against the University’s policies and regulations. “We really ask the Disciplinary Committee to help us in arresting such cases so that they serve as a deterrent.”
Prof. Alinaitwe added his voice to that of the University Secretary who had in the opening remarks appreciated that the precious time Members of the Disciplinary Committee spend rendering pro bono services to the Makerere Community’s cannot be compensated enough. “We don’t take that for granted.”
Mr. Kiranda in his opening remarks stated that the duties performed by Members of the Disciplinary Committee are a true reflection of the spirit of community service, “so we sincerely thank you very much for this sacrifice.” For example, he noted that academic staff who serve on the Committee do not get their workload reduced, and Committee Members who hold jobs elsewhere spend a significant amount of their time handling University business.
This Committee’s service, he nevertheless added, is important for the enforcement of university rules, which must be done transparently, fairly and impartially. The University Secretary noted that students as they go about their academic life might error either unintentionally or as an act of indiscipline, hence the need for a Students Disciplinary Committee to help the University Management determine each case.
“This Committee is a very strong component of the University Governance ecosystem because as an academic institution, we operate under a set of policies, rules and regulations that everybody must obey, for the maintenance of social order, and for us to work collectively in the pursuit of the goals and objectives of this university, and for creating an enabling environment for research and learning” affirmed Mr. Kiranda. He concluded by thanking the Committee Chairperson and Members for contributing to Makerere’s mandate in the overall nation building agenda.
The swearing in ceremony which opened with a word of prayer by the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer, Ms. Ritah Namisango.
Scholars converge at Makerere University to review the 40 years of Neoliberalization in Uganda
Scholars met at Makerere University to review four decades of neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the role of universities as agents and the transformative character of the process.
The ’what to do’ question was one of the central points of discussion at the conference titled Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa held on 18th to 19th January, 2024. The conference, a collaborative effort among Makerere University, International University of Rabat, Morocco and the University of Leeds, United Kingdom was organised and steered by Dr Giuliano Martiniello (Rabat), Dr Sarah Ssali (Makerere), Dr Jörg Wiegratz (Leeds), Dr Rose Nakayi (Makerere) and Professor Godfrey Asiimwe (Makerere, Mountains of the Moon University). The conference organisers had previously collaborated as part of the work on the edited collection ‘Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal Transformation’ which was published in 2018.
The conference gave particular focus to relevant developments in matters of political economy, politics, society and culture in Uganda’s market society since 2018. Speakers and participants were drawn from Uganda, UK, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Colombia, Egypt, South Africa, Denmark, Morocco, Canada and USA; across disciplines; including civil society leaders, journalists, intellectuals, grassroots activists, citizen researchers, as well as scholars and PhD students. More participants followed the discussions online on both conference days. The large gathering allowed for broad discussions and cross fertilisation of ideas on the various themes, connecting theory and practice within the Ugandan context.
The keynote was given by Professor Yash Tandon, a major figure in political and intellectual life in Uganda and beyond. Tandon positioned the conference in the historical context of Uganda and highlighted the imperialist roots of the neoliberal policies that are driving the restructuring agenda in Uganda today. The keynote panel brought together interventions by Professor John Jean Barya, Dr Martiniello and the public intellectual, writer and activist Kalundi Serumaga.
Papers were presented under panels on various themes such as labour, agricultural and environmental change, oil and energy transition, socio-cultural change, education, social policy state, elections and political agency. Several papers interrogated the pertinent neoliberal policies as drivers of problematic changes in various sectors such as oil and gas, education, health and housing, and in matters such as labour and labour unions. This stimulated debates on a key question: whether indeed there could be alternatives to the ongoing neoliberalisation of Uganda that seems to be unstoppable, across all realms of society.
Commentators on the papers included Dr Yusuf Serunkuma (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg), journalist and activist Agatha Atuhaire. They reflected on the everyday life aspects and the deep politics of neoliberalism in Uganda and highlighted various forms of existing resistance and push back vis-à-vis neoliberal political economy. Winnie Byanyima (UNAIDS Executive Director) enriched the conference with her comments about global and local neoliberalism, and the importance of activism in the struggle for change in today’s Uganda: she raised the ‘what should we do?’ question on conference day one; which was picked up by subsequent speakers including in the conference’s closing speeches and discussions.
Issues arising from the conference included:
- Four decades into the neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the all-encompassing and transformative character of this process is evident. It was also noted that scholars have grappled with the analysis of some of these changes; mostly focusing on issues of governance, policy-making, military conflict, and state-building.
- Relatively little analytical attention has been given to major topics concerning the making and operation of today’s neoliberal Uganda, this exemplary market society in East Africa and the continent at large: this includes the political economy of neoliberal restructuring (including the roll-out of commercialisation across sectors and the rise to dominance of foreign TNCs), the political sociology of the formation of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic movements, and the political ecology of extractivism.
- The existence of significant gaps in the academic literature about the interlinkages among economic, political, sociological, ecological, legal and cultural processes in this highly consequential round of capitalist restructuring of the country: the phase that has locked-in a distinct capitalist institutional architecture for the foreseeable future.
- The question of how to contest, resist and change the existing neoliberal polity, economy and culture – i.e., the fundamentals of Uganda’s capitalism – is also not often analysed in much of the scholarship. And yet, the ‘what to do?’ question is prominent in the public debate in the country, given the manifold crises – across economic and social sectors – brought about by neoliberalisation.
The conference took place in a wider context in which universities have been recognized as agents of change in many societal spheres. They are moving away from the ‘ivory tower’ concept, where they are seen as occupying special places in terms of knowledge generation without much concrete connection to society and its everyday challenges. Instead, the change-oriented agency of today’s University is evident also in the offering of a platform to debate and generate ideas that can inform policy for change, and involvement in change-oriented projects with other stakeholders, public and private.
The conference thus aimed at providing a platform for analysing and debating various developments of Uganda’s neoliberalism since the early 1980s.
It is hoped that many papers presented at the conference will be developed further, subjected to peer review, and published to inform research and policy making in Uganda and beyond. The conference participants continue their networking and collaborations beyond the end of the conference.
The next conference on contemporary capitalism in Uganda is expected to be held in 2026. The conference was supported by the POLIS Strategic Investment Fund (SRIF) 2023/24 (University of Leeds). This grant also helped citizen researchers from northern Uganda to participate in the conference and present their research findings.
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