Let’s walk the talk about finding a lasting peace in DR Congo
Posted Thursday, August 9 2012 at 01:00
As leaders of the Great Lakes Region converged in our capital for a summit on the security situation in DR Congo, I would like to give some food for thought. Since its independence from the Belgians in 1960, the DR Congo has had innumerable problems. In the not too distant past, it has gone through what I would like to refer to as the African baptism of post-colonial instability.
This has been due to colonial misfortune.
That aside, DR Congo is potentially the wealthiest nation in the world. Experts project that it has untapped wealth amounting to $24 trillion - which is equivalent to the GDP of the United States of America and western Europe combined.
The rivers in that country, according to experts, have the potential to generate 50 per cent of Africa’s needed hydro-electric power. In addition, it has 14 of the most important minerals in the world. The eco-potential (forests) is the largest in Africa. By the way, since the partitioning of Sudan, the DR Congo is now Africa’s largest country. It is 91 times the size of Rwanda and 11 times bigger than Uganda.
However, in spite of all this potential and attributes, the DR Congo is not only bedevilled by current insecurity but lack of infrastructure. The whole of north and south Kivu province depend on Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. To bring the point home to Ugandans, mull on this: virtually the entire eastern part of DR Congo depends on Uganda and Kenya for access to various goods.
As a result, although cynics may disagree, the Ugandan economy is now hurting because of insecurity in that country. Due to insecurity and instability in DR Congo and some parts of South Sudan, several Ugandan businesses are losing money. South Sudan, which mainly depends on forex income from oil, has of late been unable to trade because of a conflict with its northern neighbour in the recent past.
Uganda has therefore been negatively impacted (economically) by the quarrel in Sudan and the instability in eastern DR Congo. Part of the result has been inflation due to market access constraints, and economic shock waves that emanate from the western economies. Our neighbours in Kenya are equally hurt by the current status quo. Many trucks that should have hauled goods into Sudan and DR Congo have been parked in Uganda, for several months now.
It is, therefore, incumbent upon regional and international leaders attending the Kampala summit, to walk the talk and find viable solutions to that country’s instability. They must find a permanent solution to that crisis because it affects the entire region. The onus is also on the DRC leadership to make serious advances toward a permanent solution to the cancer of insecurity and instability. Belligerence in that country over the last 15 years has claimed an estimated 3.5 million Congolese lives!
Therefore, the biggest solution ought to be mooted by the DRC leadership and peoples. Regional heads of state can only augment such efforts; by finding an African solution to an African problem.
The UN’s 20,000 troops inside that country (second largest such force in the world) will not be the solution to the insecurity and instability therein. The usefulness of this force can only be temporary.
The recently discovered oil in eastern DRC, Uganda, South Sudan, and Kenya, in addition to discoveries of gas in Rwanda; and large deposits of gas in Tanzania’ are indicative of the economic potential of this region. However, all the anticipated benefits will be meaningless if instability and insecurity are not stemmed. Therefore, our leaders have a vital duty to find solutions to this insecurity, instability and political distortions.
Leaders, please give Africa a chance to take its rightful place in history; to rise and provide social and economic services to her people without resorting to begging from the west and the Far East. The African giant can and should wake up, starting from the middle (the Great Lakes Region). Therefore, let’s walk the talk about finding lasting solutions for peace and prosperity.
Capt. Mukula is the MP, Soroti Municipality; chairman of the Pan African Movement, Uganda Chapter and an aviation pilot and a businessman.