World Bank President says Uganda can play significant role in regional integration

Robet Zoellick
Robet Zoellick

The President of the World Bank Group, Robert Zoellick says Uganda can harness its central location in the East African region to promote regional integration and development, and offer greater opportunities for its people.

Mr. Zoellick was speaking Thursday at the end of his three country visit to Africa. He said that though Uganda was landlocked, it was a critical player in regional integration and the Bank was going to support it in developing its access to the sea to ease trade and promote economic development.

He visited, the DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

“As a partner for the government of Uganda, the Bank shall continue to support Uganda’s growth agenda, especially to improve infrastructure that will facilitate regional integration, ease trade and shore up economic development,” Zoellick said, adding, “If it has the right infrastructure, such as efficient roads and railways, then Uganda is well placed to overcome the hurdles of being landlocked and promote regional trade, especially through the northern and eastern corridors.”

According to a press release from the Bank which was copied to, Zoellick welcomed Uganda’s vision to structurally transform its economy from subsistence farming to manufacturing and services.

He said in a meeting with government officials that improved infrastructure can be of great assistance for growth and regional integration.

“I am particularly impressed with the government’s vision for commercializing agriculture especially in the face of the global crisis and higher food prices. This will not only increase food production and agro-processing for regional export but gives Uganda a great opportunity to take advantage of its two harvests a year, to increase production, particularly in Northern Uganda,” he said.

While in Uganda, Zoellick visited theTilda Rice plant in Bugiri which was privatized in 1996 with the assistance of a loan from the private sector arm of the Bank, the IFC. Tilda currently produces 20,000 metric tons of rice a year, both for domestic markets and for export, accounting for about 20 percent of Uganda’s total rice yield.

“I am glad to see this project, apart from providing food to the region, has also improved land use, including irrigation, supports local schools, dispensaries, and health care clinics, and provides a livelihood and market for more than 1,000 small outgrowers. This is evidence of Uganda’s great potential to becoming a food basket for the region,” Zoellick said.

He announced that the Bank would be considering financing the rehabilitation of the country’s existing railway line from Kampala to Mombasa, and the railway extension to South Sudan, and Tanzania, where there is great trade potential.

Zoellick told officials that he wanted to know how the Bank can help in the fight against corruption, and help modernize and reform the public sector to get more effective service delivery, and create budgetary resources for infrastructure investments needed to address the economy’s binding constraints.

He specifically called for transparency in revenue management for newfound oil resources and pledged Bank support through value chain management.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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