One of Kenya’s influential political leaders, Raila Odinga, has urged President Yoweri Museveni to start the process of regional political integration and leave behind those who are not interested.
“It is a major challenge to the leadership of this continent and this region in particular. Mr. President, I challenge you. You were there at the Summit. The time is now. Move with those who are ready to move and integrate not only economically, but also politically. There is really need for Africa to come together,” he said, pointing at President Museveni who was seated right next to him.
Odinga, the head of infrastructure development at the African Union (AU), was speaking at a Public- Private Partnership conference at Serena Kampala Hotel. He said since independence, East African leaders have been talking about coming together, but to date nothing has happened.
He emphasized that leaders have an obligation to bring countries together and shelve personal interests. The conference, which ran under the theme; Africa’s Next Big Thing, was attended by experts on public, private partnership (PPP) from several countries.
It was the first PPP conference held in Africa. Odinga cited Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who said he was willing to delay Tanganyika’s independence so that Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika could get independence together and become East African Community (EAC) federation.
He wondered why the process has taken over 50 years yet some tribes are found both in Kenya and Uganda and speak the same languages. President Museveni, who was the chief guest, said Odinga’s remarks were “music to my ears”.
Museveni observed that Odinga was only emphasizing what he has been talking about all along. Museveni appealed to the youth whom he referred to as bazukulu to fight for the united states of Africa instead of wasting time. “ Jjaja (grandfather) Odinga has told you.
Instead of not combing your hair, fight for political integration. Jjaja Odinga has re-emphasized what I have always said that we not only need economic but also political integration for strategic security purposes,” Museveni said.
Museveni said whereas the private sector is welcome through PPP, to support the government’s role of building infrastructure, the negotiators should be careful when negotiating for projects that are meant to provide social services to the majority of Ugandans.
He stressed the need to be careful with the financing of infrastructure because it greatly affects the cost of projects. Museveni cited the Bujagali hydropower project which pushed the cost of electricity per unit to unaffordable levels.
David Bahati, the planning state minister, said whereas it is the role of the Government to build infrastructure, it does not have the required capital, hence the need for the private sector to partner with it.