President Yoweri Museveni has said that the coronavirus pandemic which has killed close to 10,000 people globally is a wakeup call to Uganda and other African countries to invest in their manufacturing sector.
The virus which broke out at the end of 2019 in China’s Wuhan city has resulted into a trade crisis for most countries that rely on China, the second largest economy, for supplies. Flights into and out of China have been stopped for weeks, affecting global trade majorly.
Uganda imports goods worth USD 7bn annually from China. Most of the businesses rely on China for their stocks, but with the threat posed by the virus, they now cannot replenish their stocks.
Museveni who spoke at a national prayer event at State House Entebbe on Saturday said that much as the pandemic has led to a crisis, it also presents an opportunity for developing economies like Uganda to rethink their capacity in producing their own goods.
“This (coronavirus) is a challenge but we shall prevail over this crisis. I challenge Africans to use their talents. Christians must pray but also act,” the President said.
“I’m never pessimistic. I always try to find a solution whenever faced with a problem. On the side of the economy, yes, there will be a problem especially for tourism because visitors are no longer coming. The night clubs, bars will suffer. But other aspects of the economy will thrive,” Museveni added.
He said that this is a good time to rethink the imbalance in the trade between Uganda and China, which currently is in favor of China.
“We spend USD 7bn each year importing things from foreign countries especially China. Now with this corona, businessmen are not importing. Then why don’t you manufacture them?”
“This thing might turn out to be a wakeup call to Africans to do these things here. Now you can see the danger of not having things in-house”.
He revealed plans of creating a credit facility through Uganda Development Bank (UDB) which will support local manufacturers.
Museveni spoke at an event attended by religious leaders including the Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Supreme Mufti and leaders of Pentecostal Churches.
The President attested to the fact that the reason Uganda has not registered an confirmed case of COVID-19 is because of God.
“The fact that we don’t have a case here even with our carelessness can only be by God. Prayer has worked and it has worked in the past”.
“It worked with the locusts. The locusts came but they ate nothing and did no damage. It must have been due to prayer. The same applies to Ebola which was in Congo for a long time”.
Museveni appealed Ugandans, especially the young people, to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously. He said he will be announcing additional measures later on Saturday.
“We must go on a war footing,” Museveni said.