President Museveni hits out at World Bank and the West for funding seminars instead of infrastructure

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Participants take a group photo at the World Bank’s International Development Association summit for African Heads of state in Nairobi on April 29, 2024. President Yoweri Museveni (front row, fifth from left) criticized the World Bank for having its priorities wrong in Africa. World Bank Group President Ajay Banga is fifth from the right. Photo: Courtesy World Bank

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on Tuesday criticized the west and institutions such as the World Bank for having their priorities upside down when it comes to economic development in Africa.

The president was speaking at the World Bank’s International Development Association summit for African Heads of state in Nairobi.

The president was speaking at the World Bank’s International Development Association summit for African Heads of state in Nairobi.

“The crisis which is in Africa today is because of philosophical, ideological, and strategic economic mistakes which we have been talking about since the 1960s. It is not an accident when you see the crisis in many African countries, the collapse of States. We predicted this in the 1960s, philosophical, ideological, and strategic mistakes. I don’t have time to amplify each one but I was very happy to hear the president of the World Bank talking about prosperity instead of profiteering,” said President Museveni.

The speech can be watched in its entirety on top of this story.

Key quotes from President Museveni in his 28-minute address at IDA

  • “Aid has been for profiteering; this has been the problem. Now, the World Bank people and other groups have been talking about sustainable development.”
  • “The main reason why there’s no growth is because the growth factors are not funded, they are not even understood. What are the growth factors, we now talk of private sector growth. Yes, but for the private sector to grow what does it need? It needs a low cost of production.”
  • “Ministers of finance, what are the low costs of production? Number one is transport. You must have low transport costs. Where do low transport costs come from? The railway. If you don’t fund the railway how will you get low transport costs?”
  • “Wonderful people, IMF, where will low-cost operations come from if you don’t have a railway? If you don’t fund the railway, how would you get low transport costs?”
  • “How many railways have been constructed or funded in Africa? The few that have been was by China, the Tanzanian railway to Zambia, and recently, another one here in Kenya. Tanzania on their own is building a railway line. So, if you’re talking of developing Africa, fund the railway. If you fund the railway, you will have a low cost of transport, and you can produce cheap products.”
  • “The second cost pusher is electricity. If you don’t fund electricity and you talk about sustainable development, what are you then talking about? We must have low-cost electricity not exceeding 5 cents per kilowatts, per hour.”
  • “Borrowing, for what? Capacity building! Imagine! They call you to a hotel where you eat chapati and maandazi, and they say that is capacity building. Capacity building should be on the ground and not just in seminars.”
  • “How about funding for irrigation? Because if you want to stabilize agriculture, a country like Uganda is very rich, we’ve got everything. But sometimes, we have some erraticness because of the rains. So, to stabilize irrigation I’ve been trying to look for a loan for irrigation but I can’t easily get it – very difficult to get. But a loan for seminars is very quick.”

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