President Yoweri Museveni has said the main challenge facing African leaders is the need to define the purpose of integration clearly to the people.
“If the people know clearly that integration is for their prosperity, they will support it. If they know that political Federation is for their strategic security and survival as a free people, they would support it. It is the leaders that must understand this and convey it to the masses,” he said during a key note speech that he gave at the Africa Leadership Forum at Serena Hotel, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania yesterday.
The Forum was held under theme `Moving towards an Integrated Africa’.
The President said it is not only prosperity that compels him to work for integration but the issue of strategic security as well.
“The Americans have a doctrine that compels them to seek superiority on land, superiority in the air, superiority at sea and superiority in space. Where does that leave us? Are we to continue with indifference to the destiny of our people, just as the chiefs of old continued to indulge in vain glory for 364 years until the Europeans descended on them and captured them like grasshoppers. The present leaders of Africa must be careful not to be like those chiefs. In order to guarantee our strategic security, economic integration alone is not enough. Political integration, where possible, is the answer in addition to economic integration,” he said.
On economic integration, Museveni said there should be no limit and that the whole of Africa should be involved.
“I can trade with anybody. However, when it comes to political integration, it should be those that are most compatible. The two words: identity and interests should help us. The economic community of the whole of Africa deals with the interests. When it comes to political integration, it should be both interest and identity that should be looked at,” he said.
He noted that Africa Integration is crucial because it will provide a big market that Africans can use to negotiate with other world markets easily in order to transact better business.
The President said political and economic Integration of Africa will lead to both economic and political growth that will be able to transform the lives of the people.
The President said he believes in Pan Africanism because it’s what will make Africans prosperous.
He said Africa is still with the low level of political integration which has caused a lot of problems.
“If Africa does not integrate, there is no way we can sustainably ensure our prosperity because even the route of exporting to the international markets will, in the end, depend on the size of our own market. With a bigger market, we can more easily negotiate for more distant markets using our own market as a bargaining card,” he said
He said Africa needs to create a frame work for our business men to undertake prosperous business and noted that Human resource is the greatest resource because they buy to consume and they also produces.
President Benjamin Mkapa in his welcome remarks commended President Museveni for his involvement and reviving the process of East African Integration.
He said Museveni has fought dictatorship to liberate his people in Uganda.
Other leaders who attended the forum included Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President Cassam Uteem of Mauritius, Former Ghanain President Jerry Rawlings and Secretary General of the O.A.U, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim.
The African leadership Forum brings together former Heads of State as well as leaders from business, government, civil society and academia from across Africa building on the success of the inaugural dialogue in 2014 meeting the challenges of Africa’s transformation.