“Africa Needs Socio-Economic Transformation not Sustainable Underdevelopment ” – President Museveni

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said Africa needs socio-economic transformation to develop not sustainable underdevelopment.

“Africa does not need that sustainable underdevelopment; Africa needs socio-economic transformation. You cannot have quantitative growth and you think you are doing anything,” he said.

The President made the remarks yesterday during the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA)- Africa Heads of State summit held in Nairobi, Kenya. 

President Museveni emphasised the importance of socio-economic transformation and the need for loans that propel prosperity.

He further attributed the current crisis in Africa to persistent philosophical, ideological, strategic economic mistakes that have been in place since the 1960s and advocated for a paradigm shift towards socio-economic transformation and the need to transcend mere quantitative growth and focus on achieving qualitative change.

“When you see the crisis in many African countries, the collapse of the State, we predicted this in the 1960s. But I was very happy to hear the President of the World Bank talking about prosperity instead of profiteering. These were his own words. This has been the problem; aid has been for profiteering. The World Bank people and other groups have been talking about sustainable development, even in your document I have seen those words there. I’m now going to be 80 years old. I have never seen a sustainable pregnancy; that a woman is pregnant this year, the pregnancy continues next year, 3 years and 4 years, it never happens,” he said.

“In life, pregnancy develops sustainably in the womb of the woman quantitatively. The baby is growing bigger and bigger but at some stage, quantitative growth must be transformed into qualitative change. The pregnancy must become a baby. If the pregnancy remains a pregnancy, the fetus will die. Therefore, I would even ask you to change those words in your documents.”

President Museveni also highlighted the main reasons why there’s no growth in Africa. He said this is so because the growth factors like the private sector-led growth are not funded.

“In order for the private sector to grow, it needs low cost of production in transport, electricity and low-cost funding for manufacturing,” the President urged. 

“If you are serious, talk about low cost funding for manufacturing and funding for irrigation to stabiliseagriculture. A loan for seminars is very quick to get but for agriculture is hard to get,” he added.

President Museveni also informed the participants that one time he tried to look for foreign funding to help the 39 percent of Ugandans to join the money economy, but he failed because the available funding had conditions. He said he ended up using the country’s limited financial resources to kick off the Parish Development Model (PDM) initiative.

“Uganda is a very rich country but one of the problems we were having is that most people were outside the money economy, they were only producing for eating so I was looking for money to give coffee seedlings to this group so that they can start producing for the economy but I could not get money from anybody because the loans are for capacity building but we funded it ourselves. Each year we spend 300 million USD of our own to make these villagers join the money economy by producing for the stomach and the pocket.”

The President also pointed out the challenge of neo-colonialist civil servants who talk about money for import support that undermines the economic development of any African country.

“But I don’t want to import, I want to export, why don’t you talk to me about import substitution and export promotion?” he inquired.

President Museveni also reiterated his message on the need for Africa to stop exporting its raw materials but instead add value at source in order to steer development. 

“This Haemorrhage of Africa must stop. The crisis you see in Africa is because of stagnation of the last sixty years, since independence. The population is increasing and yet the economies are not,” he remarked.

The International Development Association (IDA) is a development finance institution which offers concessional loans and grants to low-income countries. The IDA is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States.