Vice President Jessica Alupo lauded the 20 Member State of Regional Centre for Mapping for Resources for Development for their contribution to Pan-Africanism through the work they do at the agency.
The Vice President was representing President Museveni at the 12th Conference of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) and the 56th Governing Council.
The agency-established in 1975 has a representation of 20 Member States of East and Southern Africa, with several Ministers and representatives from several member countries present.
The Vice President reminisced on President Museveni's role as a champion of integration in the African Union and his advice on the fact that the African people are one.
"We can not and must not discriminate on the account of religion, gender, age, tribe, especially on people who share similar migration stories. I want to congratulate the spirit with which you are doing your work, to bring together different member states," the VP said, adding that President Museveni, who has been the champion continuously calls upon us to disregard those imaginary lines and focus our agenda of developing as African people.
"We are looking forward to his continued leadership beyond 2026," she said.
Below is President Museveni's speech in full, read for him by Vice President, Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo.
I wish to welcome you all to the 12th Conference of Ministers responsible for Lands from the 20 Member States of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) hosted by Uganda and organized by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Secretariat of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development.
I wish to congratulate Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development for taking over the Chairpersonship from Botswana for the next two years.
Uganda is one of the Member States of the RCMRD which is an Inter-Governmental Organization.
Other states include Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Eswatini (Swaziland), Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The previous speakers informed us why RCMRD was established.
One of the reasons for creating this organization was to generate natural resources and environmental information using appropriate technologies in surveying, mapping, remote sensing, photogrammetry etc. and organize this information into suitable formats, readily available for immediate use for development-related purposes.
I was also informed that the organization was established to carry out studies and research into new technologies and techniques of resource mapping and environment management and make available the results of studies and research to member countries.
The reasons highlighted above and many more for the establishment of this Organization were of paramount importance for our region which lacks data and information on surveying and environmental management.
Most African countries rely on data and information from western countries, which information is tailored to their needs.
Ministers responsible for Lands in the Member States, I want to believe that the organization has maintained and continued to provide that kind of data and information as to why it was established.
This is the second time I am officiating such kind of function for this organisation in Uganda. The first time was in 2008, at Entebbe.
During that meeting, I remember I asked you to provide more tailored data and information to Ugandan agencies for use in development-related projects.
We have been informed in this meeting that you are going to discuss the impact of combined disciplines of surveys and mapping, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems on food production, natural resources inventory, early warning systems, environmental assessment and monitoring, including control of desertification and prevention of soil degradation (real-time mapping of disasters such as locust invasion and diseases (pandemic).
The discussion of such impacts is timely since our region is faced with all those challenges and more importantly the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Many countries in this region and beyond are experiencing severe droughts and flooding which have impacted negatively on food security.
It is shameful for African Countries that have good soils for growing crops to end up having food insecurity.
Your organization should help us to enhance resilience within the river basins as a way of managing the water resources, which water is used in agriculture particularly in irrigation and in other productive sectors.
We are all aware that, in recent times, we have experienced adverse effects of climate change in Africa and across the globe.
This, therefore, calls for serious interventions by our Governments to ensure measures for sustainable use of land are put in place without encroachment on protected areas like wetlands, and forest reserves among others.
Planning for disasters is no longer an option but a must and key to the success is improving our planning capacity around extreme events in the region using technological and modern tools to ensure that Africa’s problems of geo-information in addressing the current economic, socio-economic, environmental and other natural resources problems are tackled.
The tools should not be developed for the sake of developing them but should be developed, used and implemented to address Africa’s problems as highlighted above.
As you are aware, Uganda recently launched its first-ever satellite, which is intended to collect data and information to be used for land, natural resources, agriculture, environment, and climate change among others.
This calls for continued collaboration for the Centre in the provision, analysis and usage of such information, particularly in the provision of geo-information that will be used for the development of the region and other African Countries.
I urge all of you to have collective efforts to manage Land conflicts, Environmental degradation and Climate change. Since these retard the economic growth and development of our countries.
Finally, I wish the Governments in Eastern and Southern Africa, the member State of RCMRD, the partners and all stakeholders fruitful and productive deliberations as you pool your collective and individual resources and capacities together, which shall lead to the implementation of policies, laws, regulations and interventions that will promote the transformation of our countries.