Museveni decries bottlenecks to Africa's development

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said Thursday at the conference of intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora underway here, that internal and external factors, most of them a carry-over from the colonial period had continued to undermine efforts to develop the continent.
  "Europe not only usurped our sovereignty but also distorted the African society," the Ugandan leader charged during a roundtable shortly after the conference was opened by host President Abdoulaye Wade.
"The colonialists destroyed the feudal and artisan class in Africa, sparing only the peasant class to serve them," Museveni said, noting that colonisation suppressed the development of a middle class in Africa, thus denying the continent the very stratum that powers growth and development in any society.
"Europe overcame sectarianism because it developed a strong middle class.
Whereas the middle class is enterprising and cosmopolitan, the peasant class is survivalist and sectarian," he argued.
"The rivalry between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi, for instance, resulted from the colonial distortion of their initial social structure," the Ugandan leader said, and tasked African intellectuals to find a way out, especially to help the continent develop a middle class.
"We can't integrate without a Middle Class - that class with an enterprising and accommodating vision amenable to Pan-Africanism," he stressed.
Museveni also said Africa with some 52 countries was too fragmented to effectively bargain its interests in a competitive international order.
"The way we are going leaves the impression that we never learnt the lessons from the colonial conquest.
The West is actually beginning to think they can come back and conquer Africa again," he said, noting that African nations were yet to consolidate their independence.
Among other "strategic" obstacles to Africa's development, Museveni cited shortfalls in infrastructure, a stifling of the private sector, and persistence in primary exports at the expense of added value.
"Six years ago the coffee market averaged 55 billion US dollars, out of which coffee grain exporters altogether got only eight billion dollars.
Today, the sector generates 71 billion dollars, with exporters even worse off gleaning barely five billion dollars," he pointed out pressing the case for the transformation industry in Africa.

07 october 2004 16:06:00

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