Museveni Paper Adopted as Blue-Print to Guide Africa's Development

3377 Views Nairobi, Kenya

In short
President Museveni told a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism that he had identified ideological disorientation, weak state exemplified in a weak army, human resource underdevelopment, poor infrastructure and fragmented markets, as major obstacles to Africas development.

African leaders meeting in Nairobi, Kenya have agreed to use President Museveni's paper on bottlenecks facing Africa's development as a blue print to guide the continent.

The decision followed President Museveni's presentation at the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi on Friday where he explained bottlenecks to Africa's growth and development. The meeting was chaired by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

President Museveni told the meeting that he had arrived at the 10 bottlenecks after watching the development scene in Africa for 50 years.

"I have picked some ideas which are responsible for our lagging behind. The problem seems not to be addressing all issues in a comprehensive way," he said.

They include ideological disorientation, weak state exemplified in a weak army, human resource underdevelopment, poor infrastructure, failure to industrialize, fragmented markets, under-development of the services sector and undermining the private sector, among others.

Speaking on the weak armies, president Museveni stated thus; "When you want to build an army and you look for people from your tribe, you should ask, can a sectarian army command respect of a whole country? In such circumstances, when you get a small rebellion the army collapses. You then bring in the UN who are armed tourists."

The President commended the international community for speaking about human resource underdevelopment but added that the issue had been raised in isolation of the other bottlenecks.

He said that many development partners were disinterested in building Africa's infrastructure especially electricity leading to another bottleneck; Underdevelopment of infrastructure.

"They do not care about dams, roads and the railway. As a consequence, only South Africa and Libya under Gaddafi had high electricity consumption. Importantly, poor infrastructure causes very high costs of doing business. You can't attract investments, how then do you eradicate poverty if people are not employed," he asked.

He added that because of poor infrastructure, the next bottleneck is failure to industrialize; a development which had forced Africa into exporting raw materials and ultimately donating a lot of revenue to the West.

Citing the Ugandan example where a kilogram of unprocessed exported coffee goes for 1 US Dollar, while the processed coffee in the West fetches 14 US dollars, President Museveni asserted that Africans were the real donors - and unfortunately were donating their jobs too.

President Museveni also cited fragmented markets as a major bottleneck to Africa's development.

On the under-development of the services sector, President Museveni said this was partly because Africa has suffered bad publicity through wars, poor infrastructure, among others, compelling professionals to shun the continent. This, he said, had affected tourism, education, health, the banking sector among others.

The laissez-faire attitude that is crippling the agriculture sector in Africa, creating another bottleneck, must be fought, the President told the meeting. He said in the Tropics, many farmers were getting on with the minimum basic of producing for consumption (subsistence) and not commercial purposes. Coupled with this is the increasing fragmentation of land, making the land share diminish with successive generations.

"Agriculture must be modernized. We must talk of income security not just food security. We should also agree with Egypt on the question of irrigation for other countries sharing the Nile."

The other obstacle, according to the President, is undermining the private sector, adding that it has been persecuted through policy like Idi Amin did with expulsion of Asians or through corruption. He noted that most Asian Tigers like Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea had developed through a private sector-led approach.

The last obstacle, President Museveni noted, was democracy but added that most of Africa had addressed this and it was prevailing across the continent.

The motion to adopt the paper and task the APRM secretariat to expand it into a blue-print for the continent was moved by South African President Jacob Zuma. The proposal was unanimously supported. Earlier, both Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia had also spoken in support of the presentation.

The APRM was held ahead of the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) that runs today (Saturday) and tomorrow at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.