By Kiyimba Bruno
President Yoweri Museveni has said it is unacceptable for the African continent to continue being used as a “supermarket” by the rest of the world where goods and services of other continents are sold while Africa is not producing and selling to the rest of the world.
He also noted that the unfair and imbalanced trade pattern that leads to unfavourable balance of trade between the African continent and the rest of the world, has been one major factor that has hindered development in Africa because of importing and consuming more from the rest of the world while exporting less or even nothing in some cases.
The President made the remarks last evening at State House, Entebbe in a meeting he had with Ugandan manufacturers and traders from the Uganda Manufacturing Association (UMA), Kampala City Traders Association as well as those in the cottage industry in the textile, leather, agriculture and motor vehicle industry.
He stressed that the existing world trade pattern, where the African people continue to be consumers, as the rest of the world are producers, is dangerous for the economic growth of the continent adding that this trend of affairs needs to be halted and reversed for Africa to get a fair share of international trade.
“We can’t turn the African continent into super markets of goods and services of other continents and continue to cry about unemployment. It is economic slavery. In fact, it is the reason why our currencies are always struggling against international currencies because we use all our currencies to import all that we use in our lives,” the President said.
He further observed that Uganda alone, on top of losing a lot of her currency in the importation of goods, a lot of money is also spent on services. He cited the health sector where the country spends US$70 million on treatment abroad which, he said, should rather be done in the country.
He appealed to Uganda manufacturers and traders to embrace manufacturing and, largely, turn the country into a producer and exporter as opposed to being a consumer county, so that she is able to root for development and prosperity.
The President pledged that his government will put in place all the incentives and support the manufacturing sector in the country, including the enabling laws, building the relative technical institutions to provide the needed labour force, lower the cost of power and build the necessary industrial parks all over the country to ensure provision of the needed industrial working space for manufacturers.
On their part, the Ugandan manufacturers and traders appealed to the President to address specific issues that will promote industrialization in the country. They particularly asked him to address the high power costs, cause the availability of cheap and affordable loans to manufacturers, facilitate technological transfer from industrialized countries to Uganda, build the needed technical institutes to produce the needed labour in support of the manufacturing sector and embrace the much needed public-private partnership in the manufacturing sector.
The Minister for Kampala City Authority, Hon. Betty Kamya, that of State for Trade, Hon. Kafabusa Werikhe Michael, among others, attended the meeting