Uganda: Museveni Challenges Africa to Export More to China

President Museveni has decried low exports from African countries to China, saying the continent must double its production to benefit from the Chinese market.

"Despite the seemingly impressive growth of Africa's exports to China, the continent remains an insignificant market player in China, accounting for 2.3 per cent (2016), 2.8 per cent (2017) and 3.4 per cent (2018) of the Chinese market share.

The more disturbing factor is that these exports from Africa are mainly, raw materials, especially oil and gas and minerals. In this, we export jobs and wealth to China. This trend must be reversed and I implore all African countries to work towards exporting processed goods," President Museveni said in a statement yesterday.

He said the country controls a larger chunk of the African market, accounting for up to 17.2 per cent, which he said demands that Africa must do more.

"This is a wake-up call to all of us that we need to do more to enable Africa export more to China. It is intriguing to note that even though we have a nominal market share in China, the country remains a big market for Africa's exports; absorbing 19.8 per cent in 2018.

"This implies that we are not producing enough as a continent compared to what the Chinese market demands. Therefore, any measures aimed at increasing Africa-China trade must, as a matter of priority, equally address the production and productivity question," the President said.

He said the Africa-China trade export is a positive step towards the right direction, and offers hope for products from Africa.

"When you look at Africa-China trade figures, you get hope despite the trade deficit that Africa still experiences vis-a-vis China. This forum should, among others, enable us to devise ways of turning these rays of hope into a reality," President Museveni added.

According to the President, key to address through China-Africa cooperation are the issues of transport infrastructure, energy, cost of financing and human capital development.

"Besides the roads, we must aim at interconnecting Africa within itself, Africa with China and Africa with the rest of the world using mainly the railway and air transport, as well as water transport."

On energy, President Museveni, said it is the biggest enabler of industrial development as well as advanced agricultural production.

"We are trying as Uganda in this area, with increased generation and transmission of electricity and the dividends are encouraging."

The President decried high cost of financing in Africa, saying "this prevents private sector participation in the development initiatives on the continent."

He said with many African companies falling short largely due to financing constraints orchestrated by the high cost of financing, partnership with Chinese investors remains a dream.

President Museveni also said Africa has lagged behind in innovation. The Global Innovation Index of 2018, indicates that China is ranked 17th while the highest ranked African Country (South Africa) is ranked 58th. Uganda is also ranked in an uncomfortable 103rd position out of 126 countries.

"It is embarrassing to note that out of the bottom ten ranked countries, eight are from Africa - the other two being Bolivia and Yemen."

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