Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & PPU | President Yoweri Museveni has stressed that the African continent that lacked unity in the past, has now woken up after the industrial revolution and will not miss out on the digital revolution. He said Africans will now be part of global trade on equal terms.
“One of the weaknesses was lack of unity among Africans and as a result, Africa missed out on the industrial revolution except the Iron Age. Now Africa has woken up; we are going to the industrial and digital revolution. I want to assure you that Africa will not miss out again. It is going to be part of the global trade on equal terms,” he stressed.
President Museveni made the remarks while opening the 4th World Customs Organization (WCO) Global Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Conference at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Wednesday. The 3-day conference is being attended by over 1,000 delegates from several countries worldwide and is organised by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
The conference is running under the theme ‘Promoting Mutual Recognition of AEO to Strengthen and Secure Global Trade’ and is slated to discuss customs and trade facilitation.
Officials said Uganda was chosen to host the first ever conference in Africa because of the country’s mature and successful Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Programme on the whole continent.
Why Africa was weak before
Museveni observed that Africa had for the past 500 years never been part of the global trade because of several challenges that included, among others, slave trade that emerged out of internal weaknesses. He added that the situation was exploited by foreigners and aggravated by the era of colonialism and neo-colonialism.
Museveni further explained that as a result of the challenges that included lack of unity, Africa missed out on industrial revolution except the Iron Age.
“Now, Africa has woken up and we are handling these weaknesses such as disunity. That is why you heard 2 Anthems being played; one of Uganda and that of East Africa. When you come here, you are not only guests of Uganda but also of the East Africa Community,” he said.
The President, at this juncture, introduced members of the East African Legislative Assembly to guests at the conference. He extended an invitation to the delegates to visit other parts of the country and also told them that East Africa, whose population is 180 million and still growing, is a Customs Union that is moving to industrial and digital revolution.
He commended the Uganda Revenue Authority for inviting a powerful group of people to Uganda.
“When you come here and talk about customs and trade, you are in the right place at the right time. Apart from your customs’ conference, don’t miss out on tourism. Uganda has the best climate because it is right on the Equator. I want to thank the Uganda Revenue Authority for inviting such a wonderful group of people from all over the world,” he added.
The 4th World Customs Global AEO Conference, is also attended by State Minister for Privatization and Investment, Evelyne Anite, the Secretary General of World Customs Organization (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya and the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority, Doris Akol.
The conference details
Recognized as the largest WCO capacity building event, the WCO AEO Global Conference boasts the largest number of workshops held during an event, covering a variety of topics related to the security and facilitation of the global trade supply chain. The conference is organized by the WCO once every two years in partnership with a host Customs administration and provides a key platform for all players who have an interest in international trade.
The AEO programme is being implemented by most of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) member countries although implementation is at different stages. There are currently 77 AEO programmes in the world.
“Uganda has been at the forefront of championing change within the customs supply chain, making us one of 1st country’s in Africa to uptake this initiative,” said URA Corporate Affairs manager Vincent Seruma.
He cited trade facilitation initiatives like the Single Customs Territory (SCT), Single Document Processing Centre(DPC), and One stop Border Post (OSBP) that have been implemented by Uganda.
At the Global AEO Conference,ustoms administrations, the business community, government and multilateral policymakers, and legal and academic representatives, focus on the successes and challenges of customs and the private sector in implementing AEO programmes. The event is expected to enhance cooperation, while building capacity, in order to foster a global public-private dialogue. (SEE FULL PROGRAMME BELOW)
The theme this year is “Promoting Mutual Recognition of AEOs to Strengthen and Secure Global Trade.” This will be the 4th WCO region to host the event since its inception with the support from the Korea Customs Service.
The conference will help delegates understand the current international trade challenges, in the context of increased security requirements and discuss how law enforcement instruments and tools could be efficiently implemented in a manner that does not undermine the ongoing trade facilitation efforts.