President Yoweri Museveni has said that Africa must uplift the majority of its population engaging agriculture and move them into industry and services if its efforts in nature conservation are to yield.
The President noted that underdevelopment coupled with high levels of poverty is impeding promotion of tourism in Uganda.
Museveni was Wednesday announcing the forthcoming Tourism and Investment Forum that is slated to take place in Kampala on October 6 this year.
Organized by the Big Club, a conservation initiative whose role is to protect Africa’s remaining elephants, the forum will discuss ways of positioning Uganda as a destination for the high end tourism clientele.
“The biggest challenge to conservation in Africa is under development. The U.S, for example has a population of 320 million people and only 2% of these are in agriculture. The rest are in industry and services,” Museveni said.
He added that “if you want to support conservation sustainably, these (African) countries must be assisted to become modern so that less people stay in agriculture.”
With a significant portion of the population still subsistent agrarian farmers, Museveni says conflicts between local communities and wildlife are bound to persist.
He made reference to farmers who had encroached on gazetted Kibaale National Park to cultivate it.
Tourism as a sector draws in the biggest foreign exchange in Uganda.
In 2015, 1.3 million tourist arrivals were registered and the sector directly contributed Shs2.9bn representing 3.9% to the country’s total GDP.
Even with year on year growth in the sector, Museveni says investment is still required to increase arrivals to 4 million by 2020.
“We want to increase our foreign earnings from USD 1.3bn to USD 2.7bn by 2020. We hope this will help us promote job creation and increase GDP contribution,” Museveni said.
Government, he said, will ensure that there’s a conducive environment and incentives to investors to enable them contribute to economic growth.