In order to expand production, demand is very decisive. The more buyers that buy what you produce, the more prosperous your business and the whole country will become. When somebody buys what you produce, he is supporting your prosperity your income, jobs for your people and he is helping you to expand your tax base so that you support the welfare of your people better schools, health services, infrastructure, pensions, etc.
Prosperity, in a modern context revolves around the production of goods and services in order to earn incomes, create jobs for our people and expand the tax base.
In order to expand production, demand is very decisive. The more buyers that buy what you produce, the more prosperous your business and the whole country will become. When somebody buys what you produce, he is supporting your prosperity â"€ your income, jobs for your people and he is helping you to expand your tax base so that you support the welfare of your people better (schools, health services, infrastructure, pensions, etc).
Colonialism fragmented the African market. Prior to colonialism, there was a market of this area stretching all the way from Zanzibar to the River Congo at Nyangwe and up to Juba (Gondokoro). It was not a common market because some of the chiefs were quite extortionist. Others like Rumanyika of Karagwe were very benevolent and were assistive to the traders. The market, therefore, was not common but it was a market.
Colonialism, however, totally fragmented this market. Congo went to the Belgians as did Rwanda and Burundi. South Sudan went to the Arabs. We only remained with Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Since Independence, we have been re-assembling the market. Under COMESA, I am happy to report, the old East African market is not only re-assembled but it is now a Common Market (no taxes in it or reducing them) and also expanded. The members of COMESA are: Burundi, Comoros, DR Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
These countries have got a combined population of 470 million of people. This is a good destination for our goods and services. It is already saving some industries that could not survive and grow without this market. I can give two examples: Maize and milk. By 1986, we were producing only 200,000 tonnes of maize per annum. We are now producing 4 million tonnes of maize per annum but only consuming 1 million. The surplus 3 million tonnes are absorbed by the EAC and COMESA. The same story with milk. By 1986, we were producing only 200 million litres of milk per annum. We are now producing 2 billion litres of milk per annum but Uganda only consumes 800 million litres per annum. Where does the rest go? It is absorbed by COMESA, by the EAC and the rest of the world. Otherwise, we would, by now, have suffered from over production of these products and the prices would have collapsed. This market is now being expanded to include SADC (Southern Africa) under the Tripartite arrangement involving EAC, COMESA and SADC. This will have a combined population of about 632 million people and a GDP of US$ 1.3 trillion.
The pulling of our markets does not only provide us with a bigger market for our goods and services. It also enables us to better negotiate for market access to other foreign markets e.g. USA, EU, China, India, Japan, Russia, the Gulf, etc. This is where the future of our prosperity lies. I normally tell you of the Runyankore proverb that applies to this case. It says: "Ija turye kumwe, biri aine eki akurebireho" â"€ "The one who invites you for a meal expects something in return". The foreign countries will allow us to access their markets sustainably because they see that we have our own big market to offer them in return. Our own big market, enables us to negotiate for other big markets. Therefore, regional and continental integration is necessary for our Prosperity.
Apart from Prosperity, regional integration, especially for the EAC, is crucial because of our strategic security and survival as a free people. During the school debate in which I participated with the other presidential candidates on the 13th of February, 2016, I pointed out how the Americans are "aiming at what they call four dimensional superiority" whereby they will be superior on land, in the air (air-force), at sea (the navy) and in space (satellites and rockets). The question is: "How do we guard ourselves against such hegemonism?" Can Uganda, alone, even if we become a First World country by 2050, guard herself against such hegemonism? In the second World War, some of the developed countries such as France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark or Norway were the first victims of German aggression. Apart from economic integration, we, therefore, need to have political integration wherever possible. Political integration is possible where the populations are either similar, linked or compatible. Where there is incompatibility, political integration should not be attempted. We believe and know that the East African Federation is possible and it would create a centre of gravity for the Black race. Who is the guarantor of the freedom of the Black race currently? I cannot see anybody today. That is why Africa is being tossed around by some actors. EAC, in its present state, is about the size of India in land area with a population of 160 million people. This is a good nucleus for a very powerful, in global terms, African State that would be the centre of gravity of the African people's destiny as free peoples.
The conflicts that went on in Uganda, Congo-Kinshasha, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi etc., although not planned, ended up getting rid of the quisling of foreign interests and creating conditions for Afro-centred thinking in these countries in addition to the original EAC states of Tanzania and Kenya. It is a great opportunity for the African people to have this phenomenon.
Therefore, the geo-politics of this area revolves around the three elements: prosperity for our people, strategic security for our people and enhanced international credibility for the African peoples. There are, however, some diversionary issues being pushed by people that need more information. You hear of the problems of landlocked countries or the problem of the Nile River waters. These are non-issues. The Coastal States benefit as much as the hinterland States by operating efficient Ports. Goods that come through the Ports create wealth for the coastal States as much as they are the wealth of the hinterland States. The threat to the Nile waters is lack of electricity in the Tropics and lack of industrialization. It is the lack of these two phenomena that causes the populations in the Tropics to cut forests for fire wood and invade forests and wetlands looking for more agricultural land to under-utilize using primitive agriculture. Electrification and industrialization in the Tropics would enhance the waters of the Nile rather than diminish that precious resource. In any case, the 85 billion cubic metres of the Nile water per annum is nothing to speak about compared to the 3000 billion Cubic metres of water of the Congo River. If this area is saved from the fatricidal conflicts in the Sudan and the Congo, the peoples of this area could have a rational discussion about the future of our dear continent including the optimal use of these natural and human resources. Human resources are, sometimes, more important than natural resources. The big population of Egypt (88.8 million) and Ethiopia (101 million) is very beneficial for the whole of Africa as consumers and producers, including being producers of the products of the intellect (engineering, manufacturing, etc.). There is alot of potential complementarity between the products of a developed Tropics and North Africa (food, textiles, leather, forest products, steel, electrical equipment, engineering products, etc.), on the one hand and products of the intellect on the other hand.
Some of the most prosperous countries in the world, do not have natural resources â"€ China, Japan, South Korea, etc. The human resource is itself a great resource (as consumers and producers). Africa is lucky to have both the human and the natural resources. Let us know how to use them optimally.
I thank you.
15th March, 2016 - Kyankwanzi