Future Generator: Uganda media coverage to remain negative in early February

Future Generator: Uganda media coverage to remain negative in early February
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The ‘Future Generator’ is a highly unique and cutting-edge approach to forecasting ‘media sentiment’, developed by a partnership between Global Risk Insights (GRI) and Ethnographic Edge (EE). The aim of the forecast is to determine how media sentiment towards a country’s political environment might develop in the future. Considering the impact of media sentiment on trading and investments, our forecasts will give readers more time and context to maximize on market opportunities.

The following is an analysis of Uganda.

Uganda Future Generator

To view the full interactive graph on the Ethnographic Edge website, click here.

The EE signal suggests a negative media sentiment towards Uganda’s political climate.

On the 26th of January, EE’s sophisticated data analytics produced a signal which stated that media sentiment on Uganda’s political environment will continue trending negative over the next two weeks. Considering the strong correlation between media sentiment and political events, EE draws the conclusion that Uganda’s political environment will worsen from now through at least February 9th.

GRI Assessment of the EE Signal

GRI’s team of directors and our Uganda expert have assessed this signal provided by EE. Based on local expertise and political risk training, we agree with the data analytics produced that Uganda will, overall, experience negative political developments and media coverage through the the first week of February. This is likely due to the following reasons:

International financial institutions highlighting mismanagement as a hindrance to Uganda’s development, discouraging investors

At the conclusion of her visit to Uganda on January 27th, IMF head Christine Lagarde called for “strong institutions to keep mismanagement in check.” Governance concerns already pushed the World Bank to withhold new IDA lending to Uganda last year. World Bank support to Kampala significantly decreased in 2016, from $664 million in 2015 to $105 million. Despite the financial institutions’ statement of support for a close partnership with Uganda, officially pinpointing the substantial challenges faced by the country regarding infrastructure investment, governance and inequality is likely to further discourage investors.

Another issue plaguing undergoing projects is corruption, underlined by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016  released last week, in which Uganda ranks 151 out of 176. Despite President Museveni’s declaration of good intentions during the IMF visit, the lack of transparency in government investment projects and subsequent inability to attract investors are hampering the country’s development. An example of stalling investment projects is the Hoima refinery project in Western Uganda, for which Kampala has been unable to raise its share of the required capital. The reelection of President Museveni for a fifth term in 2016 and the lack of unity within the opposition is most likely to maintain the status quo.

Destabilization coming from neighboring South Sudan to fuel citizens’ frustrations over inequalities

As the UN issued a warning of ethnic cleansing under way in December 2016, a massive migration wave is pouring into Northern Uganda. Between the 18th and the 24th of January, 12,889 refugees were received in Uganda from South Sudan. The increasing arrival rate is destabilizing Northern Uganda, a region already lagging behind in terms of development, as it was terrorized and impoverished for many years by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The camp of Bidi Bidi, created just six months ago to welcome South Sudanese refugees, is now known as the biggest settlement camp in the world.

Uganda’s traditionally favorable refugee protection policy, providing refugees with freedom of movement, the right to work, and access to social services, might trigger tensions with the local population, as refugees are moving into the country towards Kampala. The income inequality gap is indeed deepening, especially in the capital city, which could be a potential hotbed for political upheaval after the 2016 elections, the most contested in the past decades. Frustrations seem to have awakened civil society, which is increasingly vocal about government mismanagement.

Conclusion

Heightened voicing of concerns regarding Uganda’s government mismanagement, both by international and local actors, combined with increasing refugee flows from neighboring South Sudan, will perpetuate negative media coverage of Uganda until at least February 9th.

About Author

Constance Hubert

Constance Hubert is a research assistant for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Her areas of interest include international political economy, the security-development nexus in sub-Saharan Africa and investment on emerging markets. She holds a M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Affairs and Economics and a masters degree from Sciences Po in Strategy and Risk Management.