Museveni Pipe Dream


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Nov 22, 2006
Ugandan president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said he was contemplating to link his land-locked country to the Mediterranean Sea through River Nile. The president told the Arusha based East African Legislative Assembly last week.

Navigating Ugandan ships along Africa’s longest river could enable the land-locked Uganda to experience a mass, unhampered flow of import and export goods via Egypt’s Alexandria City port the major gateway to Mediterranean Sea in the north.

Museveni's new idea rises from the fact that, the recently ended conflicts in the neighboring country of Kenya is taking great toll in Uganda's economy because the country depends on Mombassa port for its export and import ventures via the Indian Ocean.

As the post election conflicts kept razing down houses, businesses and people’s lives the main road linking Uganda to the Kenyan coast was placed under siege, blocking Uganda’s export and import ventures. Irate protesters also removed part of railway lines linking Kenya to Uganda.

“We (Ugandans) were unwittingly forced to suffer the consequences of political conflicts in Kenya,” lamented Museveni.

"And it is not just Uganda which is suffering; I recently received a delegation of members of parliament from the Rumbek region in southern Sudan who said there was a time when the area went without petroleum fuel for over seven days all because of the Kenyan conflicts," stated the Ugandan president.

"Uganda's economy is growing steadily our only problem is access to the sea which so far can be achieved through hauling our goods via either Kenya or Tanzania but with such problems like civil strife, political bureaucracy and other stumbling blocks we have to think of alternative links," he maintained.

"The size of the GDP of Uganda grew six times since 1986 from Ugandan Shillings 3000 billion in the fiscal year, 1985-1986, to UShs.19 trillion in 2006-2007. This works at US $ 11.2 billion. In PPP terms, the GDP of Uganda is US $ 52.9 billion. With assured energy in about two years' time, the economy will grow much faster," he assured.

"However, there is one aspect we cannot handle alone – cheaper transport to the sea. We cannot, for instance, handle railway modernization without working with Tanzania and Kenya," he said.

"In other words no matter how hard Ugandans work, their ultimate development achievement still depends on countries with ports, right now cheap transport to the sea is vital for Uganda," he added.

Still using River Nile, the world's longest water body, may not be as easy, and in fact even President Museveni himself admitted that; "While River Nile is navigable, there are some ‘hostile regimes’ along the river which may prove to be yet another stumbling block in Uganda usage of the water body,” he said.

Uganda is among the ten African Nations that have signed the Nile Basin Initiative pact to conserve and develop the entire drainage basin of the River Nile which covers 3,254,555 square kilometers. Other countries in the NBI regional pact include Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea.

The usage of the Nile River has been vastly associated with East and horn of African politics for many decades. Various countries, including Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have complained about the Egyptian domination of the Nile water resources. The Nile Basin Initiative was one of the most important programs to promote equal usage and peaceful cooperation.

River Nile which originates from Burundi runs into Lake Victoria in Uganda where it picks up much of its water content before flowing on about 6690 kilometers (4160 miles) north to Port Alexanderia in Egypt where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is said to be the longest river in the world.

Museveni also gave the East African Legislator 'homework' to go and find then read the book, 'Source of the Nile' by the explorer John Hannington Speke to see for themselves that before colonialists divided Africa, the continent was one large trading area featuring free movements of people and traders.

"My vision is to see Africa become one again, with our people free to move from Zanzibar to the Congo and from Uganda to Egypt without any hindrances," he concluded.
Museveni is contradicting himself in the same article. For him his best options are Kenya and Tanzania. Kenyans have just gone through a blip, they will be alright. He can rely more on them than Uganda's own northern shenanigans.
One minute he is dissing Kenya, next he says he wants to see Africans united.
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