REFERENCE IS made to the story, “Future of EAC is in agric not oil, says expert” (The New Times, March 18).
The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a window which was opened for Africans, by the US, to grow specialty crops and gain millions of dollars, but there is still very low response from Africa and East Africa in particular.
Kenya seems to be going in the direction of commercial agriculture, with horticulture now the country’s highest foreign exchange earner. Supermarkets in Europe and the Middle East are filled with fruits and vegetables from Kenya.
Value addition to agricultural produce in Kenya and Uganda is relatively better in the region.
That apart, we cannot just take Mr. Lendblom’s advice as a medical pill. While it is true that agriculture is commercially viable, we cannot just look at it as the only source of livelihood for East Africa.
Industrial growth in the region is at breakneck speed, and industrial growth is directly proportional to demand for energy. East Africa and the world at large have more demand for energy now than ever before. Figures show that only about 5 per cent of Rwandans have access to electricity. What about the rest of Rwandans?
If the rural electrification programme continues we shall need more energy. Oil exploration is key and more important now than ever before. For us to achieve sustainable development, agricultural and industrial development must move simultaneously with energy and oil exploration.
Agricultural development is a precursor to industrialisation and the latter is a precursor to development of the energy sector.
Maybe Mr. Lindbrom’s argument was based on the quantity of the reserves as compared to the potential of the agriculture sector. Otherwise my view is that we need energy urgently as a regional bloc, synonymous with our rapid industrial growth.