President Yoweri Museveni has called for stronger economic, political and social ties with African countries calling it a more durable source of development and a viable path to defeating poverty.
While speaking at the retreat for ministers and permanent secretaries at Kyankwanzi, Museveni noted that Uganda already benefits more by trading with African countries than with Europe, Asia and America, despite the absence of good transportation networks.
“We have informed Ugandans about unity, within Uganda and between Uganda and other African countries, being a medicine against poverty and under-development and for prosperity. Our trade with our African brothers and sisters under EAC and COMESA today brings in US$ 2 billion. Our trade with EU, on the other hand, only brings in US$433 million per year; with China, US$54.7millions per year; with India, US$24.8million per year; with the USA, US$27.2 millions per year; etc. Yet we import so much from China, India, EU, UAE, etc,” Museveni said
The President said Uganda must export more to the EU, to the USA, to China, to India, to the UAE, to Russia, to Turkey and Central Asia, to Japan and the Far East.
“It is not correct to support the prosperity of others by massively importing their products (goods and services) while they do not support our prosperity through them importing our goods and services,” he said.
President Museveni said by Uganda accepting refugees, is part of solidarity with our African brothers and sisters. He said currently Uganda is host to close to a million refugees with over 207,000 fro DR Congo, 250,000 from South Sudan, 36,000 from Somalia, 21, 000 from Sudan, 39,000 from Burundi and about 17,000 from Rwanda.
“In some countries they don’t allow refugees, we do this because this is our ideology. I don’t find difficulty in accepting any refugee from any African country. I don’t believe those those borders should be there,” he said.
He said by Uganda caring for the African refugees that are brought here by adversity, is not just charity. It is also good strategy.
“Our Banyarwanda comrades stayed here as refugees for 34 years (1960-1994). We gave them all the support we could afford. When they gained ascendance in Rwanda, they opened up that country for interaction, including trade, with East Africa,” he said.
Today Uganda exports US$263 million worth of goods and services to Rwanda. Rwanda, in turn, is exporting US$78 million worth of goods to Uganda. Through Rwanda Airlines, Uganda is currently contributing about US$ 24.1 million to the prosperity of the people of Rwanda. South Sudan, before the outbreak of the conflict in 2013, was contributing US$ 700 million per annum (exports and remittances) to the prosperity of the people of Uganda.
“You recently witnessed the exodus of 40,000 plus Ugandans that came back from South Sudan on account of the present conflict there. What were they doing there? Looking for prosperity. Therefore, Ugandans should know that unity within Uganda and Pan-Africanism in the whole of Africa are not mere acts of solidarity but are also investments to create a better framework for the prosperity of all Africans,” he said.