President Museveni of Uganda opened the Presidential parade of keynote addresses with a reference to the New Testament. His charismatic delivery of Matthews Chapter 19, verses 16-17, was received with resounding applause and laughter. It was clear that if he didn’t win you over with guns and bombs, he was equally capable of willing you to his point of view with a comedic punch to the senses. It’s also remarkable to note that he took no prisoners with his scathing criticism of the World Bank’s recent method of African infrastructure investment.

I am afraid my notes may not do justice to his speech—you had to be here to really experience the energy he brought to the room.

As an aside, Kibaki put everyone to sleep with a canned speech that he couldn’t even read properly? Kagame’s speech was more targeted and topical. It gave you an idea of what kind of man he his—a straight shooter who doesn’t waste a lot of time getting to the point. It was good to see him echoeing a lot of the points introduced by Uganda’s president. In that regard, at least they are on the same page for a change.

Here is a summary of the notes from President Museveni speech this morning:

    Open by making reference to Matthew: Chapter 19, verse 16-27
    What does East Africa need to do in order to get into the Kingdom of Prosperity? Kingdom of Transformation?
    Put business first, bureaucrats and government politicians second.
    Uphold the private sector
    Leaders in the 60’s made the problem of nationalizing the private businesses
    Made a mistake of not understanding the private sector
    East African treaty makes mention that the economies will be governed by the private sector
    Infrastructure: roads, rail, broadband, piped water all crucial elements that will assist businesses to lower the costs of start ups
    World Banks has caused problems along with “the other groups running around”
    Uganda has set up the Energy Fund using Ugandan money: $250 million dollars.. —
    Willing to partner with private sectors, if not, will build it ourselves.
    Much cheaper for government to build the power station
    If it’s done with tax payer’s money, it’s much cheaper for the people
    Government-built dams will be cheaper for all the people
    Bujagali being built and will provide 250 Mega Watts of power
    Karuma Falls power station will start in October
    Superiority complex lead to believe what he was being told the roads when he came into power.
    He was basically lied to, only to recently discover that the roads are in shambles. They were only built to last 10-15 years. Ghana has roads that are meant to last 50 years. Why doesn’t Uganda have those roads?
    Strongly criticizing the European Union for their roads policy (building 3rd world roads, instead of 1st class highway systems
    Two types of roads, African Roads and European roads
    $660 million towards roads in Uganda’s budget for this year.

    East African Issues
    Have to work with Tanzania and Kenya on standard railway gauge for the region
    Undersea cable needs a solution (in order to improve ICT sectors
    Efficiency of the harbors
    Uganda is about to take off
    Tax consumption and don’t tax production
    Quota free, tax-free incentive for the American markets (What’s made here, sell tax free in US (nearly 6,000 products)
    Tax free access to EU markets for over 4000 products
    Tax free deals with China and East Asia
    Embarrassment: No way to produce the products for export (there is a market, we need processing capacity)