President Yoweri Museveni has said that Rwanda’s action to close its border with Uganda is just a minor problem which cannot slow down trade in the East African region.
The President made the remarks on Wednesday while delivering an opportunity lecture to 17 high ranking military officials from 11 countries including USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Germany, Bolivia among others at Masindi State Lodge in Masindi district. The team led by Rear Admiral Ross Albon from UK Royal College of Defence Studies has been in the country for a one-week study tour of Uganda about ‘Uganda’s Geo Politics and Economic Development’.
“Even if the border is closed, trade will go on, only that it will be through smuggling. You can’t stop trade through border administration. People resort to smuggling. Others have resorted to export a lot of things to South Sudan, DR Congo, Kenya Tanzania etc,” he said.
Museveni said the six East African Countries have agreed to work for a confederation of East Africa to strengthen cooperation.
“The modern way for prosperity is exchange of goods and services for sell, the more buyers the better. We now have African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) where you can trade with anybody. East Africa is highly compatible, similar and linked. Our fraternity has not been emphasized,” he said.
On the issue of South Sudan and Somalia, the President said the problem was opportunists exploiting the issue of identity as opposed to interests.
“Identity is multi-racial and multi-cultural and yet society is dynamic. Politics of identity is very dangerous,” he said. He was however optimistic that if countries such as these invested in student movements, it would be a good entry point to cause reversal towards new thinking.
On the issue of refugees,Museveni said refugees don’t cause any cultural shock for the country and can be managed if development partners supported government with logistical needs.
“The problem is logistics; they need food, firewood for energy thereby destroying the environment for trees. They also upset social services because they overwhelm what we planned for. I appeal to the international community to support us with prefabricated materials for housing, energy, water etc,” he said. The President added however that when provided with an education and skills, it would help refugees who return home to start a new life with new links.
Museveni described Africa as a continent of the future with a big potential if it get things right.
About the investments of China an India in Africa economies, President Museveni said there is no problem with such investments as long as African governments can counter balance in economic and political terms.