Africa Does not Need Sustainable Development But Socio-Economic Transformation

Published on 14th May 2024

The crisis which is in Africa today is because of philosophical, ideological, strategic and economic mistakes, which we have been talking about since the 1960s. This is not an accident. When you see the crisis in many of the African countries, the collapse of states, we predicted this in the 1960s. Philosophical, ideological, strategic mistakes.

I don’t have time to amplify each one. But I was very happy to hear the President of the World Bank talking about prosperity instead of profiteering. These were his own words, that’s what I picked. This has been the problem. Aid has been for profiteering.

Now, the World Bank people and other groups have been talking of sustainable development. I am now going to be 80 years old. I have never seen sustainable pregnancy. That a woman is pregnant this year, the pregnancy continues next year, three years, four years, it never happens. In life, pregnancy develops sustainably within the womb of the woman, quantitatively. The baby is growing bigger and bigger.

But at some stage, quantitative growth must be transformed into qualitative change. The pregnancy must become a baby. If the pregnancy remains pregnancy, the foetus will die. So therefore, I would even ask you to change those words in your documents. Africa does not need sustainable, what you could call it, sustainable underdevelopment. Africa needs socio-economic transformation. The pregnancy must become a baby. The baby must grow and grow and become a teenager. The teenager must grow, and that’s what happens in life. You cannot have quantitative growth and think you are doing anything.

The main reason why there is no growth is because the growth factors are not funded. They are not even understood. What are the growth factors? We now talk of private sector led growth. Yes, but for the private sector to grow, what does it need? It needs low cost of production.

Ministers of Finance, low costs of production. And what are the low costs of production? Number one, transport. You must have low transport costs. Where do low transport costs come from? From the railway. If you don’t fund the railway, how will you get low transport costs?

Wonderful people, where will low cost of production come from if you don’t have a railway? I have been here for the last 64 years. I’ve been watching as a student leader, as a freedom fighter, now as the leader of a country. How many railways have been constructed or funded in Africa? The few that have been was by China, the Tanzania Railway to Zambia, and recently China, another one here in Kenya, and then Tanzania on their own, they are building a railway line.

So, if you are talking of helping Africa, the railway. I don’t want to be involved in any other words, words, words, no please. The railway, because if you fund the railway, you will have low cost of transport and you can produce products which are cheap, which can be bought in the world. So you audit how much funding, all these billions you are talking about, how much of it has gone to the railway. Audit it.

The second cost pusher is electricity. If you don’t fund electricity, and you talk about sustainable development, what are you talking about? Private sector and growth, maneno tu. Electricity, we must have low cost electricity, not exceeding five cents per kilowatt hour. That’s what I insist on in Uganda. I’m tired of all these stories. These neo-colonial civil servants who have been holding us back, I have put my foot down, and said I don’t want to hear those stories. Uganda is developing and it will develop because I don’t entertain that nonsense anymore.

Borrowing for what? Capacity building. Imagine, seminars, they call you in a hotel, you eat chapatti, you eat mandazi, they say that is capacity building. Capacity building should be on the ground, not just seminars. So, the second point, electricity.

The third one, those people who talk about private sector led growth, private sector led growth. I have been trying to borrow money for our UDB, Uganda Development Bank, a bank which funds manufacturers. No, I don’t get support for that. Instead, they want me to go, my people to go to commercial banks. But commercial banks cannot give. No, those commercial banks are to encourage imports. Because the only person who can borrow money and pay it back from a commercial bank is a trader, who goes to China, goes to where, Dubai, brings products, sells them quickly and pays back. So, if you are serious, I need to hear about the low-cost funding for manufacturing. Not for stories, not for what, what, what, no, manufacturing.

How about funding for irrigation? Because, if you want to stabilize agriculture, a country like Uganda is very rich. We have got everything, but still sometimes we get some eraticness in the rain. So, in order to stabilize, I’ve been trying to look for a loan for irrigation. I can’t easily get it, it’s very difficult to get.  A loan for seminars, very quick. But a loan for irrigation, you don’t see.

Now finally, I don’t know the situation in other African countries, and I don’t have time to talk for a long, I don’t have, don’t have an opportunity to talk for long. But Uganda is a very rich country. But one of the problems we’re having was that our people, we are outside the money economy. They were in what they call subsistence sector. They just produce for eating, produce for eating, produce for eating. Wanashughulikia tumbo tu. So, I was looking for money, please give me money to give coffee seedlings to these fellows who are just producing for the stomach, so that they can produce for the stomach, but also produce for the pocket, so that they join the money economy.

You cannot imagine that by 2013, a few years ago, 68% of the homesteads in Uganda were still in the subsistence sector in the non-money economy. You audit your countries, what is the situation? What is the percentage of the people? So I had now to use my own money, because I couldn’t get, I couldn’t borrow money from anybody. The loans are for capacity building, for, I don’t know, sometimes again for ICT, but ICT is a communication system, mainly. What are you going to communicate on that communication? How are you, Good morning, and you think that is communication. Why don’t you have ICT linked with agriculture, linked with industry? Oh, now the digital, digital, digital. Are you eating your computers? Have I seen anybody eating computers? Just running up and down. Maneno tu.

So, I was insisting that all these Ugandans must be in the money economy. 2013, not long ago, 68% of Ugandans were outside the money economy because Uganda is a very rich country. A fool can survive there. In other countries fools die. But in Uganda, fools can survive there. They just eat, he stays with his brothers, he eats, he goes from there to the sister, he eats. He’s not earning anything but he’s eating. So we said, no, everybody must be involved in the money economy. We couldn’t get any support for that, but we funded it ourselves.

Each year we spend about $300 million of our own to make these villagers join the money economy by producing for the stomach, but also for the pocket. And from 2013, I was now told that for the first time, 61% of the people are in the money economy, of the homesteads. It is only 39% that are still out. You imagine, those are still there, just eating, no money.

Then you get your neo-colonial civil servants, they talk of import support. Imagine, there is money for import support, import support, import support. The Governor writes to me, reports. We have got import cover for so many months. But I don’t want to import, I want to export. Why don’t you tell me about import substitution and export promotion? Instead you’re telling me about import support. So money is available to become more dependent.

Now, finally, the curse which we told our people about in the 1960s, we told them, part of the wars we fought in Uganda, we had to get rid of the neo-colonial groups which were there, which were stopping us from thinking. We had to get rid of them by force. But one of the problems was Africa producing raw materials, material primaire, they call it in Francaise, material primaire, raw materials.

Imagine coffee. The global value of coffee is $460 billion. All the coffee producing countries of the world, Brazil, us, all this, we only get $25 billion of that. Out of the $460 billion, the coffee producing countries get $25 billion. And Africa gets only $2.5 billion. $900 million of that comes to Uganda because Uganda produces a lot of coffee. A country like Germany, which has no coffee, earns $65 billion from coffee. So, I sell a kilo of coffee, good grade coffee, $2.5. Somebody in London would get $241 from that one kilo. Okay, there are other costs on the way. I don’t want to… because he’s the owner of a restaurant and so on. But, coffee roasting, coffee grinding, coffee packing must happen here in Africa. It must happen at source.

The shirt I’m putting on is Ugandan cotton. I don’t put on foreign clothes. It’s only the trousers I’m putting on because I can’t go naked. Because they have not solved that problem for me. So, if you look at cotton, how many job levels are there? Job levels.

You grow the cotton. Okay, that one we do. Those jobs we do. We gin the cotton, kutoa mbegu, remove the seeds. That one we do here. And we end there. When you hear all these countries which have got crisis, Burkina Faso, I don’t know what, Mali, all of them are cotton growing countries. But how much textiles are they producing? They’re importing textiles I don’t know from where. So, now if you end at level two, ginning, removing the seeds, then you take the pamba, you take the cotton to cleverer people. People who are clever, watu wenye akili,wako huko,sisi hapa tutajiita vipi,kama mtu anakuzidi akili …

So, they take the cotton, they spin, spinning more money, more jobs. For their children, they weave, more money, more jobs. For their children, they put the print. More money, more jobs for their children.

I looked at the figures. Uganda consumes 276 million meters of textiles each year. And that wonderful country of yours spends 880 million dollars on clothes. Some of them are dead people’s clothes from Europe. When people die, their clothes, they are sent to you people, to Africa. And we spend 800, all the money we earn from coffee goes back to bring dead people’s clothes. But for, we have got one factory there called Nitil. It produces 25 million meters.

So, in order to clothe our people in Uganda without importing, we need about 11 factories, like the one of Nitil. And they would employ about 20,000 people. and we would save 880 million dollars, which we are just giving to other people.

So, this AIDA, what do you say about the modern slavery of the Africans of producing raw materials? In one of our documents in Addis Ababa, we had talked of Africa producing what it does not consume and consuming what it does not produce. They had put that as a summary in one of the documents of the African Union. We must get rid of the production of raw…

I banned the export of minerals from Uganda. The agents were going on the corridors saying, do this, do that. No mineral will come from Uganda if it is not processed. You wait until I go away, then you can steal the minerals. But not now. We banned the export of unprocessed minerals in 2012. My young brother His Excellency Ruto, I forgave him, and gave him some little iron ore. For, I think two or three years. I have a lot of iron ore. One of the best in the world. I told His Excellency Ruto’s Asian in Kenya,

 “You come and build the steel factory in Uganda at the iron ore source.”   

“Oh, I have already built it in Mombasa.”     

I said, “Okay, because of my young friend, I give you some iron ore for I think two or three years, but come and put the factory in Uganda.”    

An Indian wanted to take that iron ore to India, imagine, and do what? pay my wonderful people 47 dollars per tonne. Our Iron ore is the purest in the world. It is 70% pure. So you need like one and half tonnes to make a tonne of steel. Now a ton of steel costs 700 dollars. Somebody gives you 47 dollars on the wealth of your people and he gets 700 dollars from it… and all the jobs. Your children have no jobs but the other person has all the jobs. I can’t be part of that treachery.

There will be no export of unprocessed minerals from Uganda. When I banned them, they are flocking in now. They have opened 7 gold refineries. The other day I was opening a tin refinery. Since the British were here, they were taking the tin stones and giving my people 11 dollars per kilo. They took it to cleverer people. These cleverer people would get 32 dollars. My people got 11 dollars and the cleverer people got 32 dollars and all the jobs. So when I was opening the factory, I asked the people present, this boy who opened the factory was a Canadian. I asked them, has this Canadian brought his own electricity? No. He is using our electricity. Has he brought his own water? No. He is using our water. Whose internet is he using? Our Internet. So out of the 32 dollars, much of that money will remain in Uganda. What do my brothers and sisters say about this haemorrhage of Africa?  This haemorrhage must stop. The crisis you see in our countries is because of the stagnation over the last 60 years. The population is increasing but the economies are not increasing, what do you expect?

By His Excellency Yoweri Museveni

President of Uganda.


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