African leaders discuss challenges to growth
23 May 2014, 08:00
Kigali - There is need to tackle insecurity to ensure sustainable progress in Africa, leaders at the ongoing African Development Bank meetings in Kigali said on Thursday.
Appearing on a high level panel during a session titled "Have your say! Dialogue with Leaders", Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba said despite Africa's enormous resources and stable economic growth, insecurity in several parts of the continent is a disruption to sustainable development.
"We must be practical. Talking about trade and other nice things are more soothing to the ear than security. But it won't be until we have sufficient security against internal, regional and continental threats that we can be sure of real development," Ondimba said.
He was on a penal alongside Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Kenya's Deputy President, William Ruto.
"After securing security, we can be confident that our achievements will be safeguarded, and also have the capacity to construct infrastructure such as regional railways, airports and highways that will facilitate trade and help us to integrate faster," Ondimba added, reacting to one of the questions from participants.
President Museveni said although the continent has made commendable growth, which no other continent matches in the last 50 years, there is still a dire need for true ambition and political will.
Statistics, he said, say that Africa has high rates of growth in spite of lacking infrastructure. "That shows you the great potential on this continent. But the problem of growing without infrastructure is that; the sectors which create more jobs, like manufacturing, are not the ones that grow," Museveni said.
The Ugandan leader said he has always believed that industrialization is the sure way through which the continent can develop.
"And as you can see, we in East Africa are fast-tracking initiatives that will ensure that our borders are painted away. Between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, many exciting projects are ongoing in railway, road construction and facilitation of regional trade."
Kagame, meanwhile, urged countries to avoid old colonial tendencies which emphasize national development ahead of regional integration.
"We rise together or fall together. It is not going to be enough for one country to do so well when others are doing so badly," he said.
"We have suffered colonialism and external influence that define us as Anglophone or Francophone. Don't worry about new colonial efforts because the old ones have not yet left us. What we should do now is to construct infrastructure that stretches out of our national jurisdictions."
Kagame said "We should give more respect to our natural resources and ensure that before they benefit anyone else, they benefit our citizens first.".
Africa is endowed with enormous natural resources, including rich soils, minerals and oil but the continent remains the world's poorest due to a number of obstacles like conflicts.
Ruto said Africa will soon emerge from such challenges, as many countries are aggressively investing in industrialization and regional integration. There is good news coming, Ruto said, citing integration in East Africa which has enabled goods from Mombasa to reach Kigali in six days instead of 22 days.
"Goods from Mombasa to Kampala take only four days instead of 14. We need to expand intra-Africa trade to prosper together," he added.