Thursday 18 October 2018

Kevin Myers: Why should we burden our unborn generations with debt to finance fighter jets in Uganda?

Phew. We can all breathe easy again: the first two of the Ugandan Air Force's six supersonic Sukhoi Su-30MK2 have arrived safely in Kampala. The full half-dozen aircraft will cost about $740m (¿512m). The Su-30MK2 -- you will also be happy to hear -- is optimised for the anti-shipping role.

At its nearest point, Uganda is over 400 miles from the sea, and Kampala, where the aircraft are based, is some 500 miles from the Indian Ocean. But since Uganda shares the huge Lake Victoria with Tanzania and Kenya, perhaps it has bought these aircraft in order to prosecute aquatic disagreements with its neighbours.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs' website, "Irish Aid has been working in Uganda since 1994 with support increasing from an initial programme budget of less than ¿1m to over ¿33m in 2010. Additional support is provided by Irish Aid through NGOs, missionaries and other international partners. Ireland's new five-year plan for Uganda . . . commits over ¿166m in official development assistance during that period . . . An estimated 66pc of the budget will be channelled through the government of Uganda, 29pc through civil society organisations and 4pc through UN organisations. The goal of the strategy is to reduce chronic poverty and vulnerability . . ."

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