OPINION: It should be noted that during the 1940s, the current challenge of Africans then was the question of political liberation from imperialism. The great men like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere among others are always remembered as great men who helped Africa to gain her independence and even started the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963 Adis-Ababa, Ethiopia. But their efforts did not infinitely economically liberate Africans.
However, there is a new breed of African leaders who are determined to be game-changers of the welfare of Africans through pushing for the Intra-African trade. President Museveni will be greatly remembered for not only fostering peace but also making peace with the sole purpose of bolstering trade on the continent.
Uganda’s main export partners include South Sudan (15 percent), Kenya (10 percent), DR Congo, etc. Uganda’s exports to South Sudan was US dollars 357.34m during 2020, according to United Nations Com-trade. This has been a deliberate plan of the UPDF under President Museveni to pacify the war-torn country which has enabled many Africans including Ugandans to find it a profitable haven for trade.
Furthermore, it is within everyone’s knowledge that President Museveni was one of the architects of the EAC integration in 1993. He engineered the luring of South Sudan, Burundi, and now DR Congo into one East African bloc. President Museveni is also fast-tracking the African Continental Free trade Trade Area Agreement which was signed in March 2018 with the purpose of creating a single African market of over 1 billion consumers with a total GDP of over $ 3 trillion.
With already one-stop border points infrastructure in place, Uganda’s trade in manufactured and processed goods will increase hence growing the value of our exports and creating more jobs for youths.
When African countries trade with each other, they exchange more manufactured goods, knowledge transfer and good bilateral relations which increases state incomes from product sophistication.
African leaders should know that intra trade is more profitable and feasible than trading with Europe and the US simply because there high transport costs which eat up traders profit but also the technical and regulatory standards are too high to meet which excludes Africans and makes them beggers, which makes us net importers hence high unemployment and poverty.
According to Comtrade, intra-African exports in 2017 was only 17% compared to levels in Europe 69%,Asia 59% and North America 31%
It is upon this background that President Museveni will be written in the world of fame books and remembered for not only making the continent peaceful but also ensuring that Africans can take paradigm shift and start creating wealth through aiding infrastructure developments like the 223km road to Mpondwe in DR Congo which is meant to improve trade connectivity between two countries but also improve peace.
The author; Ben Ssebuguzi is an economist, entrepreneur and Secretary General of Uganda Poor Youth movement.