Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is leading regional and international dignitaries to mark the country’s 50th independence anniversary, using the occasion to announce that his country is looking to enter the ranks of industrialised nations in another half century.
At national celebrations Tuesday, attended by leaders from Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, President Museveni said more children were in school, more firms were able to access reliable electricity and more roads were paved.
Uganda recently discovered oil and plans are underway to develop infrastructure to export the commodity through an international oil pipeline.
President Museveni said some 150,000 students were receiving university education, 1.2 million were receiving secondary education and 8.3 million pupils were in primary school, the highest since the country independence from British rule.
Earlier, newly-elected Somali President arrived at the Entebbe International Airport to a 21-gun salute.
Presidents Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Italian Foreign Minister Affafu Esteri were also in attendance.
State-owned newspaper, the New Vision, described the public mood in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, as “euphoric”.
President Museveni said Uganda was likely to hit the high income status in another half a century, going at the current rate of raw materials production.
Uganda is counting on its oil wealth and a per capita of US$580, which it expects to rise to US$2,700.
“To become a middle income (country), you need a per capita of US$1000, which we could achieve quickly with our current rate of electricity connections,” President Museveni said.
Uganda’s National Planning Agency estimates the country requires a combined investment of US$13 billion to push through to the middle income status.
Uganda is one of the African states worst hit by the global financial crisis, which slowed down annual aid.
President Museveni has been in power since 1986, when his National Resistance Movement (NRM) seized power.