“Process Raw Materials to Become Independent” -Pres. Musevini Cautions Liberia -Tells VP Howard-Taylor Liberia Has Growth Potentials

Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini has called on Africans, especially Liberians, to wake up from their slumber and become industrious in order to meet the challenges of globalization. The Ugandan leader said Liberia, with its vast resource capacities, can become economically independent once the country’s leaders are prepared to put the people to work.

Speaking in a frank tete-a-tete with Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor recently when she visited Uganda to explore opportunities for intra-continental investment, President Musevini said the high pace of development seen today in his country was not achieved by complacency.

“Ugandans are big sleepers. The few that you see busy, we have been fighting to wake them up. As you can from my speeches, the main problem of Africa is social backwardness. Society is always moving forward,” President Musevini averred, adding, his government has been waging war on sloth to make Ugandans self-sustainable.

“I am at war with Ugandans because they want to sleep, and I want them to wake up. They say I am disturbing them, that I should leave them to go and sleep,” he stated whimsically.

Ugandans, President Musevini informed, have a long tradition of producing food to feed themselves, as they don’t import food since time immemorial.

“But we are now convincing them to not only produce food to eat, but for cash. Right now, in Uganda, only 39% of households work for food. The remaining 61% of households not only produce food to eat but make money from their produce,” the Uganda leader informed VP Howard-Taylor.

President Musevini also called on the Liberian government to prioritize processing of raw materials instead of selling the raw materials for “pittance”.

“Your leaders must be clear. What I know about Liberia is that apart from rubber, you also have iron ore. So, you should even be the one supplying the whole of Africa. I heard that your country just mines iron ore and sells the raw material. We too have iron ore. But I stopped the exportation of iron ore because Ugandans would not have benefited. It is not just about the money; it is about jobs. When the iron ore goes to India, people will be hired to work at their factories. They won’t be Ugandan workers, but Indians. So, I told my officials who wanted to get into this deal with the Indians, that if they sell the raw ore to the Indians, Uganda will just become donors of iron ore, money and jobs to the Indians. For Liberia to sell raw ore is not correct. You need to process the raw ore into steel to make more money and create jobs for your people,” President Musevini advised sternly.

For her part, Vice President Taylor extolled President Musevini for leading the fight for Africa’s liberation from the colonial powers. She furthered, now that President Musevini is also leading the economic revolution in his country, Liberia stands to benefit a lot from an interlinked relationship through trade and commerce.

“For instance, Africa Continental Free Trade is about people working to build a better, sustainable Africa. So, I want to make this as my first request, if it is possible, to think about; that Uganda Air coming to Liberia to establish people-to-people interlink for commerce and trade, benefits all of us. We are hoping that it can be easier to come across from Liberia, West Africa to Uganda. I know there is a Uganda Air; we are hoping one day sooner than later they have some trips to Monrovia, even if it is once a week. Your Excellency, we would really, really love that. Because you go from Monrovia to Accra, Accra to Nairobi, from Nairobi to Uganda – which takes almost 24 hours to get from one short distance that could probably be five hours in a trip. We are hoping that would better link people to people,” VP Howard-Taylor implored, adding, there is so much that Liberia can learn and benefit from Uganda.

Expounding further, Vice President Howard-Taylor spoke of the pressing need to empower the youths of Liberia, given the fact that the country had experienced a brutal and prolonged civil war which left the youths largely dependent on handouts while living in refugee camps and displaced centers.

“I have seen the industry of your people; everyone is engaged, busy doing something – unlike my country, there is a lot of idleness because we have the new generation of young people who were actually born during the war, so they didn’t have equal opportunity for proper education and proper industry. All they saw growing up was handout – free food, free blankets, because they were in displaced camps across our country. So, some of them still do not what it is to begin to work. We are having that problem of how to actually engage them,” VP Howard-Taylor intoned.

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