What you need to know:
- Mr Tayebwa also opined that trade, especially intra-African trade is the only instrument that African countries must embrace to liberate the continent from the burden of exploitation by foreign powers.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, has challenged African leaders to prioritise unrestricted trade with one another to save the continent from the burden of foreign aid.
Mr Tayebwa made the observations on Wednesday while speaking during discussions on the sub-topic of African Continental Free Trade Area implementation at the 18th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) in Cameroon.
He illustrated that whereas elite Africans criticize neocolonialism, several African governments have introduced foreign stockholders to usurp investment opportunities on the continent while undermining and ignoring natives with the same capability.
Mr Tayebwa also opined that trade, especially intra-African trade is the only instrument that African countries must embrace to liberate the continent from the burden of exploitation by foreign powers.
“As Africa, trade not aid will liberate us - and for you to trade, you start with your neighbour. Many governments in Africa introduce investors who come with USD $1 million in investment but later claim investments worth USD $100 million,” he said.
When someone of colour comes to any African government, he will easily see the President of the country but an African investor will find it difficult because he does not look rich. This is a problem,” Tayebwa said.
According to Mr Tayebwa, intra-African trade can only be smoothly facilitated by travel and free movement of goods and services. He expressed concern over the fact that African governments impose unnecessary travel restrictions which continue to hinder the achievement of a united Africa.
“I used over 20 hours to fly from Uganda to Cameroon yet using that same amount of time, I would have gone to Brussels and the Netherlands and back to Uganda. The problem is that in Africa, we look at each other as competitors and not as partners, can we go back to our regional blocs?” he said.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a flagship project of the AU championed in 2012 and commenced operations in 2021 with the purpose of facilitating intra-African trade and boosting the continent’s positioning on the global market to actualize Africa’s Agenda 2063.
AfCFTA is anticipated to create a single continental market with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3.4 trillion that will benefit its population of over 1.3 billion people on the continent.
Uganda and 26 other African countries out of the 55 on the continent have ratified the AfCFTA Instrument.
Relatedly, in an earlier presentation, Mr Tayebwa revealed that Uganda will host the first carbon-neutral conference on the continent in January 2024.