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Museveni: Democracy won’t transform African economies

President Yoweri Museveni is in Nairobi Kenya to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

President Museveni has this morning delivered a keynote address on good governance at the Africa Peer Review Mechanism Summit.

This high-level side event is being organised to provide a platform for TICAD VI participants to discuss concrete ways in which the TICAD can further enhance support for the promotion of democratic governance in Africa, consistent with priorities outlined in agenda 2063.

“My problem with most of such discussions is that they handle topics in a fragmented way. There is a belief that there’s always one problem at a time,” he said.

In the 1960s in the universities, they spoke of integrated rural development, then moved to education then sustainable development.

Recently they began women rights then children rights. But according to my experience, of 50 years, Museveni noted, the best way is to handle these topics comprehensively.

“We should find a minimum package that will create impact.”

In talking about Africa, the aim of good governance should be socio-economic transformation, he said.

According to him, the Europeans and recently the Asians have gone through this.

How does one stay a child and still talk of sustainability? A child must become a teenager and later an adult as a show of growth. And this growth must be both qualitative and quantitative, Museveni explained.

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In the last 600 years, Europe moved from a feudal society to a skilled middle-income working society. By the time of the French Revolution, society was structured with aristocrats, middle class, working class and peasants. Today, there are no more peasants and aristocrats in France.

“The question then is; why is Africa lacking a predominant middle class and a large skilled working class? In my 50 years of observation, I have identified 10 bottlenecks in this respect.”

He cited the first as infrastructure, saying these were not emphasized in the past like electricity, railways, roads and ICT.

“Take the consumption of electricity for example. With the exception of South Africa and Libya during Gaddafi’s reign, the rest of Africa has a very low kilowatt-hour per capita. But without electricity how do you attract investments and jobs?”

He cited the second bottleneck as human resource development.

The third bottleneck he cited was a fragmented market.

“How do you support production if you don’t have a big enough market? Africa was fragmented into 53 small markets by colonialists.”

Comparing with China, Museveni said a Communist country does not have the kind of democracy in Africa, the liberalism but it has attracted a lot of investments in the last 30 years.

“Africa is democratic but how come we haven’t attracted much investment?”
The fourth bottleneck is interference with the private sector either by policy like what was seen with Amin and expelling Asians or by corruption.

“The private sector is the best avenue of creating jobs and giving you a good governance base.”

Museveni said democracy helps people have a say in how government is run, gives them an opportunity to speak out but by itself it can’t cause socio-economic transformation.

“To conclude therefore, we must identify these bottlenecks in entirety and fix them for good governance to make meaning.”

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