Dear Ban Ki Moon: Please put Yoweri Museveni in charge of the UN Millenium Project

I may have my problems with President Museveni of Uganda, but sometimes I simply love the man. Here is an except of a September address to the UN General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals:

Regarding the statement that I have heard repeated so many times since the General Assembly opened, that “all African countries cannot meet the MDGs by 2015,” I would like to make two positions clear.

First of all, this confirms what I said yesterday in the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development needs. Talking of sustainable development without talking of socio-economic transformation has not been correct. We have repeatedly pointed this one out. I have often used the example of pregnancy. You cannot endlessly, talk of “sustainable pregnancy”. Yes, the “pregnancy” should be sustainable until it transitions into as baby.

Like Europe did and other societies in Asia have done recently, Africa must, therefore, metamorphose socially, economically and technologically from a pre-industrial, sometimes feudal, society into a middle class, skilled working class society. Period. Meeting all the MDGs is a consequence of this metamorphosis.

You cannot maintain a pre-industrial society and, then, somehow, meet these MDGs. That is what Uganda has been working for in the last 20 years. This means that Africa must industrialise, develop modern services sector and commercialise agriculture. That means that emphasis must be put on “market access”. This means that we should not only access the big markets of the World, but also rationalise our own African markets through regional and continental integration. It also means that in order to lower costs of doing business in Africa, we should deal with energy, transport, especially rail and education (primary and high-level). The MDGs are consequences of these. They are not precursors or autonomous phenomena to these.

The second position I would like to point out under MDGs is that Uganda is on course to meet all of them except maternal and child mortality. I see no reason why these goals should not be achievable. Other than HIV/AIDS which is behaviour-related, I am sure all the others are achievable if in Uganda we do enough, political-led sensitisation and investment.

I do not associate myself with the pessimists on Africa or those who put the cart before the horse. Why, for instance, were industrialisation and value-addition not made one of the MDGs? The export of the raw-materials is one of the cardinal ‘sins’ that causes Africa to contribute only 2% of World Trade would go up even today.

Moreover, this would create jobs for the Africans and, therefore, contribute structurally to poverty eradication. How were we supposed to eradicate poverty without creating jobs other than using witchcraft? We have repeatedly pointed out these issues in several fora, to no avail.

Read the full speech here. Thanks to AAS for the pointer.

2 thoughts on “Dear Ban Ki Moon: Please put Yoweri Museveni in charge of the UN Millenium Project

  1. I beg to differ. Please do not put him in charge, unless you want a lot of lovely words that may or may not have anything to do with reality. Museveni is a fantastic politician, but for all his talk (however eloquent or witty) the fact is that it is mostly just that, talk. This is the same man who, upon taking power, reprimanded the African big men of old for wanting to stay in power forever. Twenty years later he was changing the constitution to ensure his own third term plus. Talk of good roads, adequate health care, quality education, and sufficient/affordable energy (among many others) have failed to produce any of those things for years. He sounds great and can be pretty darn charismatic, but I would never give him so much credit as to even joke about heading the Millennium Project.