UGANDA is deploying heavy security across its capital Kampala as dozens of African heads of state begin arriving for the African Union Summit.
Uganda's Foreign Minister Okello Oryem said on Saturday that security measures exceed the normally tight security during state visits.
The meeting officially begins on Sunday, just two weeks after 76 people died in Kampala in twin bomb attacks targeting people watching the World Cup final match.
Somalia's Islamist militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in retaliation for the deployment of Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia.
The peacekeepers are part of an African Union mission, and after the attacks, the AU declared that Somalia would be at the top of the agenda at the AU summit.
On Thursday, after preliminary meetings among ministers, the AU announced the number of peacekeepers would be boosted to around 8,000 with the addition of troops from Guinea.
Yesterday, former British prime minister Gordon Brown addressed a preliminary meeting in Kampala.
He told participants the world needs Africa and said future economic growth depended on harnessing the production and consumer demand potential across the continent.
It was Mr Brown's first public appearance since leaving office.
On Friday, the United States announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will also address the summit in Kampala. He is expected to arrive today.
Meanwhile, the African Union has launched a multibillion Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) covering key sectors of energy, transportation, information, communication technology and trans-boundary resources sectors.
The African Union Commission Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Elham Ibrahim, said the programme will make Africa speak with one voice in sectoral parties before donors and that 100 billion US dollars have already been injected into the project for preliminary stages.
“This is an opportunity for African countries to develop a sustainable infrastructure network for economic development,” she said.
The South African President, Jacob Zuma, said PIDA was vital and fundamental aspect for African development because it would connect the whole continent.
“The programme will free this continent from the ties of poverty and make it one of the most significant powers in the world,” he said, adding: “We will be speaking one language before other continents, particularly donors.”
He said the West will be connected to the South, then to the North and the East with the central and Southern part.
Zuma called upon the African Development Bank (AfDB) to make a wise decision of investing in this programme and it would yield a high return. Investing in this project will make the bank the greatest financial institution in the world.
“Even the story of World Cup success was made possible to the great extent because of the domestic resources,” Zuma said, adding that those who saw it before as a failure were ashamed and were currently confessing their ignorance.
The AfDB president, Dr Donald Kaberuka, in his speech said PIDA was important instruments that would make Africa manifest its potential capabilities before other continents.
“Africa has a lot of challenges to address and we have acknowledged our development weaknesses, thus the bank will continue to finance the infrastructure programme so that it becomes a reality,” he said.
He said the programme will make Africa overcome the major challenge of poverty reduction.
He said AfDB has so far invested more than 9 billion US dollars to various development projects in Africa and it is always committed to complement what member states have initiated.
He called for effective regional communities and groups participation which will be involved greatly in the implementation of the PIDA.
The New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) president, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, said the project is strategic and coherent since its ownership belongs to African countries, particularly regional groups and financial institutions.
He said the challenge behind is the implementation and management of funds to be injected in the projects in question.