BY PPU REPORTER
The President of the Republic of Senegal, H.E Macky Sall has described his Ugandan counterpart, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as a freedom fighter who has made a lot of sacrifices to ensure peace and security reigns in Uganda, East Africa and the entire African continent.
“The old people have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge and a lot of things to share, that is why we come to you for experience. As a freedom fighter, all what you are doing your entire life is fighting for Africa. When we got independence, we didn't know what to do, but the sacrifices of our old people who struggled for our independence helped us to get a lot of freedom. President Museveni is one of these leaders in Africa,” President Macky Sall expounded.
The Senegalese leader made the remarks during a press briefing at State House Entebbe. He is in Uganda on a two-day official visit on the invitation of President Museveni.
Prior to the Press briefing, President Macky Sall was received by H.E Museveni at State House-Entebbe and the two Heads of State heldtalks during which matters of bilateral, continental and international interest were discussed. He was accompanied by a delegation consisting of Ministers, and Senior Government Officials.
President Macky Sall also thanked Gen. Museveni for his good leadership and asserted that his visit was consistent with the traditional African hospitality.
He however underscored the need for the two countries to strengthen their bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, security and intelligence among other sectors.
“What does Uganda produce in excess so that it can export it to Senegal? For example in Senegal we import things from New Zealand and Brazil. We import powdered milk from these countries. We need to see how we can come and buy your milk,” H.E Macky Sall suggested.
We also produce a lot of things in Senegal, we produce a lot of ground nuts, we don't know whether Ugandans like ground nuts. There are therefore a lot of possibilities to exchange ideas. In the world and Africa, there are many subjects we can cooperate on, including security. Uganda exports security in many places. It can be made a valuable export product,” he added.
The visiting Head of State condemned the recent attack and killing of innocent students in Kasese and expressed his condolences to the parents, the community of Kasese and Ugandans in general. He expressed the need to continue with the fight against terrorism across the continent.
“The experience in East Africa for example could inspire us and also inspire all other African countries. In West Africa, yes, there are a lot of terrorism activities in the Sahel zone and the Lake Chad area. Different groups terrorize people and nations. We must work together and mutualize our common understanding of this problem and also put together our resources to fight it. We must examine our ways including intelligence and why not adopt symmetric measures to have them established?” he wondered.
“Thank you for your kind invitation. Even when I leave Office, I promise to spend more time and visit the country,” he concluded.
President Museveni on his part, first thanked the visiting President for positively responding to his invitation.
“I have been to Senegal a number of times. I visited Senegal when His Excellency Abou Diouf was President. Then I visited when His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade was also President and, in your time, I also came there. I'm glad the Senegalese Presidents have also come to Uganda. President Diof, Wade came and now you have also come. We are very happy,” he asserted.
The President was happy to reaffirm the good relations between the two African countries that have been in existence since the times of the freedom struggle against colonialism and foreign occupation in Africa.
President Museveni also underscored the need to ensure regional peace in order for prosperity to take place in Africa.He said the key areas of cooperation between Uganda and Senegal namely; Trade & Commerce, Technical cooperation, cooperation in political and diplomatic affairs of Africa and Security & Intelligence cannot succeed if the rest of Africa is unstable.
“And you cannot say Senegal will do well if much of west Africa is in chaos or Uganda will do well if the rest of Eastern, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa are in trouble,” H.E Museveni noted.
President Museveni also informed his guest that the economy of Uganda is gaining some prosperity in many sectors such as; Agriculture, Industry, Services and ICT partly because of trading with neighbors like Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Burundi, Tanzania and Rwanda adding that the prosperity of those countries also depend on trade with neighbors and the volumes of regional trade is much bigger.
“Therefore, really we should take regional peace seriously as part of internal matter more-less as if it is our internal problem,” President Museveni said.
He however expressed concern that the level of bilateral cooperation was still low and that not much has been achieved since the last bilateral cooperation agreement that was signed in 1997.
“We have had very good relations with Senegal all the time but the bad thing is that we have not done business seriously because that is what is supposed to be done now. We should find out what Senegal can buy from outside and if Uganda can supply it and vice versa. If there's something Senegal is selling, we can buy. That is one clear potential area of cooperation. The other area is technical cooperation in the field of energy because we all have experiences in petroleum, exploration and gas and also in security and intelligence as well as political affairs,” President emphasized.
“There are commodities which have got a global market like coffee, tea, minerals like diamond and oil. That one you can sell to far away people, but this is a narrower spectrum because the big spectrum is really what can be traded in the region because if you look at Uganda's trade with the neighbors', building materials like cement, steel products, food, sell more in the region. Yes, they are those we sell abroad like gold and coffee but what we sell in the region is much bigger than,” he added.
Earlier, during the bilateral talks, the two leaders exchanged views on the political and security situation on the Continent, essentially focusing on the evolution of the political and security situation in Africa in general and in the Great Lakes Region. They expressed the need to work for the unity of Africa by eliminating anglophone francophone divisions.
They also directed the responsible Ministers to initiate and finalize negotiations on all outstanding issues of common interest in the Political, Economic, Environmental, Tourism, Agriculture, Intelligence and Security as well as Natural Resources with emphasis on value addition and enhanced cooperation in the oil and gas sector, following the discovery of significant quantities in both countries.
Regarding their global discussions, their Excellencies noted the two Countries’ being Members of the African Peace Initiative/Plan are ready to support and push for a peaceful resolution of the Russia -Ukraine conflict and called for more constructive engagements and continued dialogue from both parties with support of the International Community.
The two Presidents also welcomed the broad consensus reached among the G20 Members for the African Union to Join the G20 following the advocacy by the President Macky Sall during his tenure as Africa Union Chairperson.
In February 2022, at the invitation of President Sall who was at that time the Chairperson of the African Union, Gen Museveni met and held talks with the Senegalese leader in Dakar, Senegal. The two leaders discussed the security situation on the continent as well as the economic development of the African countries. President Museveni also sought to open up markets for Ugandan manufactured products in Senegal.