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OPINION: Free Trade For African Countries: Continental Block Will Spur Trade And Develop Africa

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In his book, “Sowing The Mustard Seed”, Second Edition, President Museveni articulates the case for Pan-Africanism with a slant, in part, to business dividends. “The milk production of Uganda is now 2 billion litres, up from 200 million litres in 1986. Uganda, however, currently, consumes only 800 million litres per annum”. He adds that; “What will happen to the rest then? This is true of bananas, goats, cattle, fruits and other products? Our second layer of saviours are the East Africans, the South Sudanese, the Congolese and other regional partners”.

The President has been, and remains a strong advocate of regional integration in Africa. Now, further to the likes of EAC and COMESA, the big one is here. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) endorsed by African Union (AU) Member States in Kigali, in March 2018, takes effect next year. This, after the ratification of the operational aspects of AfCFTA, at an AU extra-ordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger on 7th July 2019 – The New Vision, 20th July 2019.

The essence of Niamey pact is that Africa’s Free Trade Area will be operational effective July 2020. In Niamey, the necessary instruments were signed by the required minimum 22 AU Member States, including Uganda. It is a major break-through for business across the continent. With 55 Member countries, Africa’s Free Trade Area will dwarf ALL trading blocks, including the EU, in terms of membership. 

AfCFTA is bringing together a combined market of 1.2 billion people and economies with an aggregate GDP of USD 2.5 trillion. It is a huge market under which countries in Africa, will trade with each other, minus tariff barriers. AfCFTA will spur industrialization, grow economies, create jobs, strengthen indigenous capabilities and ease Africa’s vulnerability to external trading shocks.

For Uganda, niche items include fresh, organic grain foodstuffs, which have ready market in countries like Congo, Angola, Senegal, Namibia and the Saharan, North African Countries. Our other niche items include milk, fruits, fish, beef and household consumer items. Uganda is also progressively building capacity in oil and gas and services like tourism and ICT innovations, from which we stand to reap, among others. 

Intra-Africa business will slash Africa’s trade deficit, considering the continent imports food items alone, worth USD 60 billion annually. Relatedly, under the current skewed trade regime, intra-Africa business is at 16% while that with Europe, for instance, is at 65%.

Therefore, the AfCFTA will unlock Africa’s massive economic potential, right from the short term. Indeed, intra-African trade is now projected to rise to 60% by 2022. Retaining the USD 60 billion Africa is “donating” to Europe in annual food imports, will greatly boost the continent socio-economically.

In a riveting address, at a Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture at Makerere University on 31st August 2017, President Museveni submitted that; “Africa is a huge continent with a land area of 11.7 million square miles, which makes it 12 times bigger than India, 4 times bigger than USA and China each and more than 2 times the size of Russia. We are somewhat working on economic integration through the Regional Economic Communities; although we should be more religious and focused on this issue”. 

Credit to him and other regional leaders for bringing AfCTFA to life. We should, therefore, position Uganda tap into this huge continental market. Priority considerations include accelerating industrialisation, improving product/service value chains, fast-tracking oil, gas, energy and minerals’ development. Others are expanding transport and ICT infrastructure, enhancing agricultural production and aligning our fiscal policies, as may be applicable.

Moses Watasa

Commissioner, Communication and Information Dissemination

MINISTRY OF ICT & NATIONAL GUIDANCE

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God Will Ask You How A Good Musician Went Bankrupt – Museveni Launches National Intellectual Property Policy, Inventors To Be Fully Protected By The Law…

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President Yoweri Museveni has today presided over the launch of the National Intellectual Property Policy at State House.

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual Property rights grant the owner of the work exclusive rights to exploit and benefit from his/her creations.

The National Intellectual Property Policy will therefore give Ugandans full protection from the law and enable them to earn from their toil and sweat.

The IP plan is a visionary tool looking forward to a Uganda where innovation and creativity can efficiently stimulate sustainable development.

The strategy is aimed at creating a robust IP value chain that fosters innovation and creativity as pillars of sustainable development in the country.

At the launch, President Museveni commended that it is crucial that individuals are rewarded for their innovations. He however cited that IP rights cannot be talked about without addressing the issue of funding for scientist who are behind most of the innovations.

On the same occasion, Museveni also noted that the National IP Policy doesn’t only cover the work of scientists, but also protects the creative work of artists like songs, paintings, among other artistic works.

“It is also a calling from God because God will ask you how a good musician went bankrupt,” he humorously commented.

“It is not good to betray the people you serve. When you serve, you should make sure there are no stones left unturned,” he added.

“For many years, African literature was oral. We now have an opportunity to preserve our rich African literature through copyright. It is important that the government creates an environment where creativity and innovation can thrive,” Museveni said.

President Museveni said that the NRM is committed to supporting innovations aimed at increasing the profitability of Ugandans engaged in different enterprises because one of the leading factors contributing to effective policy implementation is the political commitment and will from the highest level of government.

 

By Baron Kironde



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Gov’t Applauds Patidar Samaj Community For Supporting COVID19 Fight…

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Seremba inspecting the facility


The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health has applauded the Patidar Samaj Community for their effort in the fight against the deadly COVID19 Pandemic.

Geoffrey Seremba the undersecretary in the Ministry of Health thanked Patidar Samaj Community for giving government their property as a quarantine center to accommodate hundreds of Ugandans who returned from abroad.

Seremba with members of Patidar Samaj Comunity

Dr. Richard Mugabi, the National Coordinator COVID19 explained that the experts have assessed the premises located on plot 11/13 Bombo road and found them fit to be a quarantine centre.

“The site has a capacity of 100 residents. We appreciate and accept this offer from the Patidar Samaj Community. The Ministry of Health has committed to avail the items to ensure the site is fully functional,” Muhahi noted.

He promised that the government is going to provide the site with bed sheets, blankets, fumigation, security and food for the quarantined returnees.

Some of the Patidar Samaj community leaders

On behalf of the Patidar Samaj Community, Patel Kamlesh the chairperson Board of trustees revealed that they have spent over Shs.50m on working on the facility to make it fit for the returnees and government is free to use it.

He added that the reason behind their move to give the said facility to government was after realizing that all the facilities put in place to accommodate COVID19 suspects and patients are full.

Patidar Samaj is under the Indian Association in Uganda.

 

By Sengooba Alirabaki



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Government Inks Oil Pipeline Deal With Total…

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President Yoweri Museveni today presided over the signing of the Host Government Agreement (HGA) for the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project between the government and Total.

Museveni congratulated Total upon concluding this agreement which he said will now move Uganda closer to production of crude oil in Uganda.

“It has taken long but I want to assure Ugandans that this was deliberate. We have gone through every item,” Museveni said.

Statiscally, Uganda as a country has oil as a small fraction of its wealth. The big part is agriculture, industry, services and human resource. Museveni however said that Oil can be a good spark for transformation.

“It will bring money which we shall use to develop infrastructure, science and technology. This money will not be used for consumption. We shall use it to enhance our durable capacity,” Museveni said.

“I welcome our partners from France, led by the Total CEO and Chairman, Patrick Pouyanne. I will get in touch with His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli to follow up on Tanzania’s host agreement,” he added.

Museveni congratulated the Ugandan team, and commended them for being good negotiators.

Museveni confirmed that Uganda now has a good petroleum team in terms of science, economics, adding that they always help him because they know everything that’s happening across the world in the oil sector.

 

By Baron Kironde



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