Uganda, Zambia set out Africa’s priorities to G8

Africa needs targeted aid in order to trade and practical help on energy generation and infrastructure, the presidents of Uganda and Zambia said June 5 ahead of a summit of world leaders later in the week.

Large influxes of foreign cash that are not specifically targeted can unbalance African economies by artificially bolstering local currencies and undermining efforts to export, they said.

“Too much aid is not good for our economies,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told an African business forum in London, aimed at stimulating investment in the continent. “This aid in my view should be targeted: aid for trade, aid in order to trade.”

Museveni spoke a day before leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) top industrial countries gathered in Germany. Alleviating poverty in Africa and tackling climate change are top of the agenda at the three-day summit. (HNN 5/25/07)

Museveni urged the G8 to target assistance on energy generation and transport infrastructure. The East African nation suffers crippling electricity shortages that deter investors.

“Where we need assistance now, or at least no obstruction, is on cheap electricity — hydro, geothermal, and nuclear power,” he said, adding that Uganda could not avoid nuclear energy given its power shortages.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said African nations were not interested in aid “just for the sake of it.”

“We want to be helped so that we can help ourselves,” he said.

Mwanawasa said he wanted Western companies to exploit Zambia’s raw materials but they should do this by setting up local factories to produce value-added goods rather than simply extracting minerals.

Addressing the gathering of business leaders and officials, Mwanawasa also urged the G8 to live up to their aid pledges made at their meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005. World leaders at Gleneagles agreed to a US$50 billion increase in aid per year by 2010, half of which would go to Africa. They also agreed to 100 percent debt cancellation.

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