Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni Wednesday opened the 4th World Customs Organization (WCO) Global Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) conference at Serena Hotel in Kampala.
He revealed that Africa’s increasing population will play a big role in its economic transformation, wondering why some people are against a bigger population.
He noted that Africa’s population has been small because of diseases which he attributed to good climate (suitable for mosquitoes). He however noted that with modern technology and medicine, the population is increasing.
“The population of Africa is currently 1.25 billion. It is still smaller than the population of India yet it (India) is 12 times smaller than Africa,” Museveni said.
“We are now sorting the problem (of low population). Our daughters are working hard (to produce children),” the President added in reference to the high fertility rate of Ugandan women. He noted that Africa’s population is projected to hit 2.5 billion by 2050.
“Hitherto, Africa has not been part of global trade. It has been at the periphery…we had slave trade which didn’t go through customs,” Museveni said causing laughter to the delegates.
“In the past 500 years, slave trade was a big problem because of internal weaknesses in Africa that were exploited by greedy foreigners,” he said, adding that this made Africa to miss out on industrial revolution.
He revealed that Africa has since woken up through uniting. He gave an example of the East African Community that comprise six counties accounting for 180 million people.
However, South Sudan wasn’t represented at the three-day conference.
“Numbers are growing. We are now moving into the industrial age, digital revolution. Africa will not miss out again. It will be part of global trade on equal terms,” he said. He urged the delegates to tour various parts of Uganda include the Equator, noting Uganda stands in the middle of the earth and is a unique country because there are only three spots globally where the Equator is on a high altitude (the others being Kenya and Ecuador).
“Here the Equator is on a high altitude (with good climatic conditions). That’s why sometimes Ugandans are lazy. You can find someone who has nothing, but is very fat,” Museveni said, causing uncontrolled laughter to the audience.
Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner General Doris Akol said the event has attracted over 1000 delegates; 600 international and 400 national (from Uganda).
The 4th WCO Global AEO Conference brings together players in International Trade Facilitation. This is the first time the conference is being held in Africa, Akol said.
The conference is running under the theme “Promoting Mutual Recognition of AEOs to Strengthen & Secure Global Trade.”
The AEO program is a trade facilitation program which aids trade facilitation and promotes security of the international trade supply chain.
It is derived from the World Customs Organization frame work of standards called the ‘SAFE’, an acronym which stands for Security and Facilitation in a global Environment.
Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General, World Customs Organization said the conference will give delegates an insight into the future of trusted trader programmes and how they can facilitate and secure global trade, in addition to providing a platform for networking and launching new initiatives and projects.
We’ll keep you posted!