COMESA 18 – Addis Ababa (1) …… photos and tales from COMESA 17
By\ Mekki Elmograbi
COMESA 18 – Addis Ababa (1)
Before we comment on the upcoming summit let us have some tales from the previous one; the handover speech of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the 17th summit in Kinshasa was comprehensive and straightforward but a little bit funny!
As expected, Museveni didn’t miss the opportunity to explain his disappointment toward the western stand against some internal Ugandan issues such as anti-gay law, “I am glad the USA has, finally, accepted the idea of a USA-Africa Summit. There is also the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit. Our strategy should be to emphasize infrastructure development. Yes, we can talk about other subjects dear to the Western countries such as the homosexuals. However, even the homosexuals need electricity. Hence, electricity, railways, roads, ICT, piped water for, at least, the towns, education and health infrastructure must be our priorities in whatever forum we are in. Those should be our points of emphasis”, Museveni said.
Although it seems that he used the forum to present his argument against western countries in an offensive way, the rest of his speech hit the economic issues but still with a sense of humor, “The export of raw-materials is the modern form of slave-trade in Africa. We discovered oil in 2006. Up to today we have not dug out that oil because of disagreeing with the oil companies that, initially, did not want to build a Refinery. We rejected that policy because we told the oil companies, that we had heard of a “rumors!” that there were human beings in the Great Lakes that needed refined petroleum products”
As we have seen in that summit and others, African leaders are powerful and courageous but their countries and even their regional blocs are still powerless. The 17th COMESA summit held under the theme “Consolidating Intra-COMESA Trade through Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development” while the 18th summit comes under the theme “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization”; the question is still, what did the 19 countries of COMESA achieved regarding the previous theme? What is expected to implement regarding the new theme? Are they going to spend the time in humorous speeches such like what Museveni have delivered in Kinshasa.