President Yoweri Museveni has urged African countries to promote trade as one of the strategies that will ensure the survival of the continent and the prosperity of the people.
“Today, Africans must know that trade is a matter of survival. If you don’t trade, you will collapse because prosperity comes from trade,” Museveni said on Saturday as he opened the first ever Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo joint Business Forum at Munyonyo.
Museveni, who warmly welcomed the DRC delegation to Uganda informed them that we are one people divided by the colonial boundaries, adding that trade in the region started very many years ago.
“Congo and East Africa have been trading since time immemorial,” he observed.
The President cited products that were being traded from the Indian Ocean coast such as textiles, glass, beads and guns in exchange with the interior areas that included such products like copper, ivory, iron and cows.
Museveni asserted that by facilitating trade, a number of challenges are resolved including job creation, taxes that will help in the sectors of infrastructure building namely roads, health and education.
The President added that the market factor is equally crucial noting that the Ugandan population of 42 million and that of the DRC of 80 million is not enough. He cited China as a country that has a guaranteed market of 1.3 billion people and yet Child is still struggling for markets in other countries.
“We need the market of all of Africa and there should be no taxes at the borders. What we need to concentrate on is the quality of production that can be done in the country where it is cheapest and there will be comparative advantages,” he said.
He said that once a product is made cheaply in one country such as the DRC, her neighbor like Uganda can buy the product and vice-versa thus promoting trade on the continent.
“This is good for everybody. Africans would get cheap and plenty of quality goods and the business would grow,” he noted.
Tshisekedi to create economic hub
The DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi said his dream is transforming the country known for conflict especially in the eastern part into an economic hub for the entire region.
“I am consulting elders in the region to see how we can shift from a conflict zone into an economic hub. I am happy the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is in place to promote trade and bring our countries together,”Tshisekedi said.
“I admire your knowledge on the history of this region. That is why I came to you and agreed with you that we must engage more in trade instead of conflicts.”
The DRC President also said he is seeking consultation on eliminating negative forces in the region through reconciliation and repatriation so they can live peacefully as one people.
The one-day conference was attended by business delegations from Uganda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as the line Ministers from the 2 countries.
The Governor of Beni in the DRC, Mr. Nyonyi Bwanakawa and that of Ituri also in the DRC, Mr. Jean Bamanisa Saidi, among others, were also present at the business forum.