The incoming Minister of East African Community Affairs Rtd Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire has blamed leaders in the East African region and the African continent as whole for contributing towards poverty as more African migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Europe to seek better living conditions.
While officially receiving office from outgoing minister Hon Kirunda Kivejinja, Otafiire advocated for a regional currency as one of the ways to strengthen East African economies.
“The question of single currency is an aspiration. East Africa used to have a single currency but after Independence, we all got drunk with sovereignty of our own, we developed super eagles as countries and we didn’t know that together we survive, separately we are going to hung,” said Otafiire.
He added that the East African region is poor not because it has no resources but because the available resources have not been turned into hope and comfort of the East African people.
“So we still remain backward. We should work together for a single currency, a federation, political union, customs union to ensure that we bring benefits to our people.”
“It’s a shame. When you see Africans drowning in the Mediterranean going to resource exhausted Europe, running away from resource rich Africa just because 50 years after Independence we the leaders of Africa have failed to turn the Wealth of Africa into comfort for our people. It’s an issue for historical review. What will history say of us,” he said.
Asked how he will promote Buy Uganda Build Uganda initiative (BUBU), Otafiire said emphasis should be on the regional market not the Ugandan market.
“Buy Uganda Build Uganda should not stop you from buying East Africa. This is a free economy, we should compete. Buy Uganda Build Uganda yes but if Kenya can produce Rwenzori water cheaper than Uganda, Ugandans are entitled to cheap water. You are not going to make Ugandans drink your expensive or fail to drink clean water just because of Buy Uganda Build Uganda.”
He added that people should take advantage of what they can competitively produce.
Otafiire advocated for bigger East African Market not just Ugandan Market.
“If it becomes Buy East Africa then we are creating a bigger market. Why should we confine Ugandans to this market of 44 million people and out of those, less than 10 are participating in the money economy?”
The outgoing Justice Minister also advocated for greater African development not just a single country Uganda.
“I am an African patriot. I want us to Buy Africa and Build Africa,” he added.