Museveni urges EU to stop mixing business with politics as summit opens

President Yoweri Museveni has urged the European Union to stop mixing politics with business if they are to do serious trade and investment in Africa.

Museveni made the comments during the ongoing 3rd Uganda-EU Business Forum 2024, which is running under the theme, Boosting Trade and Investment.

A statement from State House said the President emphasised the need for European governments to stop mixing politics with business.

“The non-trade barrier created by wrong politics, where people mix politics with business, need to be halted because there is no way you can control the world politically,” Museveni urged.

He further asked the EU to “engage in a serious dialogue with Africa to create more business opportunities among both parties and warned against exploitation and unfair division of labour by the western powers.”

“One of the disablers of business has been the unfair division of labour in the world where Africa and some of the other places like Latin America produce raw materials, and then the raw materials are taken to Europe and processed there into finished products,” the President said, adding: “This is very dangerous. When you hear the chaos in some African countries now, the original problem is this one here. Those areas have a lot of natural resources, but they have been exporting raw materials.”

According to the State House, “President Museveni also called upon the countries of the European Union to promote global affluence in order to enable the success of businesses around the world.”

“When the Chinese started building and getting out of poverty, a tonne of steel jumped from USD200 to USD900. It has now come down to about USD700. We are building steel industries now because the movement of the Chinese from straw-thatched shelters to permanent buildings has meant that the price of steel, cement, copper, and all products went up because of the movement from poverty to affluence in China,” he explained.

“You, as business people, can pursue business, but the political actors in Europe and all of us need to know that global affluence will give good business to everybody in the world,” he added.

He welcomed European companies investing in Uganda.

“Europeans investing here is common sense and strategic,” the president said.

Jan Sadek, the EU Ambassador to Uganda, said  the East African country and European companies have a lot to offer in this trade forum because both have several trade opportunities.

Uganda reaps big from forum

At the forum, a number of agreements were signed to boost investment opportunities between Ugandan and European companies.

1.     Green and Decent Jobs for Youth, We Work at Euro 50m, and the project aims to enhance the employability of vulnerable youth, including young women, as well as their access to green and decent employment.

2.    Advancing Respect for Business and Human Rights in Uganda at Euro 5 million. The aim is to contribute to the reduction of human rights abuses, particularly those impacting women, in business activities in Uganda. The project supports the development.

3.    The support for the Agricultural Revitalization and Transformation facility is 11.5m. This initiative aims to boost value addition and agroprocessing by unlocking affordable medium- and long-term financing for agribusiness SMEs in Uganda.

4.    The Women Entrepreneurs for Africa Programme within the Team Europe initiative invests in young businesses in Africa.

5.    European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to Centenary Rural Development Bank (“CERUDEB”) Uganda. The project relates to online lending of €50 million to microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, with a focus on female borrowers (50%) and clients in rural areas (60%).

6.    EIB Loan to Housing Finance Bank at €25 million. This loan aims at providing financing to Housing Finance Bank-HFB for onward lending to a number of private sector entities, mostly small and medium enterprises, with a particular focus on eligible businesses run by and/or managed by women.

7.    EIB loan to Towerco of Africa-Uganda at €25 million. The global gateway project supports the construction of 675 new mobile towers in Uganda. aBI-Green and inclusive growth in Uganda’s agri-food systems at Euro 12 million.

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