, KAMPALA, Uganda, Oct 8 – Deputy President William Ruto has challenged leaders in Africa to focus more on making the continent competitive to attract investments.
Ruto expressed concern that the intra-Africa trade partnership was not being embraced with the seriousness it deserved compared to European and Asian intra-partnerships.
“The biggest challenge facing the African continent is how to make the region competitive to attract investments,” said Ruto.
He was speaking during the 17th Annual Prayer Day for Uganda held in Kampala on Thursday, attended by President Yoweri Museveni among a host of Ugandan and Kenyan MPs.
Ruto noted that the intra-Asian and inter-Europe trading partnerships stood at 40 and 60 percent respectively while the inter-African one only stood at 10 percent.
Ruto, however, lauded efforts being made in the integration of the East Africa Community (EAC).
He said the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi was ahead of schedule and was expected to be at Malaba along the Kenya-Uganda border by 2019.
He said this would greatly help reduce the cost of transportation among people in the EAC region by 70 percent.
The Deputy President said it is encouraging that the East African Community (EAC) is committed to free movement of citizens and their goods.
“It is impressing that barriers and hurdles that were a stumbling block to business and people moving from one place to another are becoming less and less,” said Ruto.
Ruto said the continent should improve infrastructure, generate more electricity to make it cheap and accessible as well as equip the youth with skills necessary for the development.
“As a continent we must reduce the cost of doing business. This can be done through reduction of electricity, transport costs and having the people with knowledge and skills necessary to develop the region,” said Ruto.
“We need Kenyan products in Uganda just like the way we need Uganda products in Kenya and we should not be worried about products moving from country to country,” he added.
The Deputy President asked leaders in the continent to work together in addressing poverty besides eliminating barriers that have become a stumbling block in making the region business friendly.
“We cannot be successful in the midst of poverty. We can share wealth but we cannot share poverty,” said the Deputy President.
The theme of the prayer was’ the joy of serving others.’