Opinion 1: Promoting Ugandan Constitution
The Ugandan Embassy should start promoting or giving access to the Uganda Constitution as a way of keeping Ugandans in the Diaspora aware of their constitutional rights. The same should apply to promoting National Development programmes like the Uganda Vision 2040.
Opinion 2: Annual Diaspora day
The government should setup a Diaspora day, an annual event that would involve Diasporans from all over the world and includes those already settled back in the country. The day will celebrate achievements, share experiences, showcase good cultural values from the west, promoting volunteer and philanthropy spirit. Most Diaspora events in Uganda are centred on individual interests and do not represent the interests of people in the Diaspora. To network and engage in various ways towards achieving the Vision 2040 and Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).
Opinion 3: Social media
Government institutions should have a presence on social media platforms like facebook, twitter and Google plus, this will ease the flow of information between Diaspora networks. Innovative technologies and social media have played a key role in bridging distances and changing diaspora relations with their home countries.
While low budget travel enables people today to move faster, more frequently and in many directions, the Internet and social media – with their real-time connectivity – have spawned a large and growing number of online or electronic Diaspora networks that have changed the nature of migration and mobility. Enterprising Diasporas can contribute their knowledge, experience and skills to the development of the country or community of origin without actually returning home. Temporary contract workers can stay abroad longer yet remain in close contact with their families.
Opinion 4: Diaspora industrial park and facilitating Diaspora investment
In order to encourage more Diasporans to repatriate skills especially in the manufacturing sector, an initiative to establish a dedicated industry park for small scale manufacturing projects by Diasporas is key. Uganda should setup a task force to assess the country’s skills needs, and is considering how skilled returnees could further fill some of the identified skills gaps in the manufacturing sector.
Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to have a policy to protect the rights of its nationals when they return, to enable them to participate in national affairs.
Opinion 5: Diaspora desk at Embassies
Uganda should set-up a desk at its foreign missions to focus on issues that affects Ugandans in the Diaspora, guide them on issues like doing business in Uganda, their constitution rights etc.Uganda can engage, enable and empower Diasporas for development purposes through appropriate communication, outreach and partnership policies and actions at home and abroad. Connecting with Diasporas, and leveraging their various resources for development, involves a multitude of government departments and other partners, and the interest and commitment of government at the highest levels to move such a cross-cutting agenda forward. A governmental ministry or entity dedicated to Diaspora issues can facilitate the necessary inter-ministerial coordination and ensure that these communities abroad are included in any national development plan.
Question 1: Douglas Oppong
Has the government thought of raising finance for projects mentioned under PPPs arrangements from Ugandans locally and in the Diaspora or from African investors within Africa? There is vast amount of finance within all these people which can be raised rather than waiting for the Chinese to land.
Hon. Muloni answered that it is about who gives favourable, lowest interest on the finance who gets the attention and the deal. China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China are lending billions of Yuan at interest rates several percentage points below the cheapest commercial loans available at international markets, some Chinese loans had a 2 per cent interest rate and a 22-year repayment period. It is our time in Africa to utilise this opportunity for cheap money.
Question 2: Robert Lutalo
What is the government policy for employment? Regulations stipulate that 80% of employers should be Ugandan but you find that most foreign companies especially the Chinese bring in all their employees.
Hon. Muloni responded that in some new sectors like oil and gas a lot of effort is going into developing capacity and being new in the industry, it implies that other countries need to provide the expertise but also effort to develop capacity are being made in terms of professional competence and so far over 60 Ugandans have been trained in petroleum at Masters level and other technicians sent to Trinidad and Tobago while courses in the sector are started at our local universities.
Before a work permit is issued to a foreign expert, initial checks are done to ensure no local competence is available. Let the local force participate in building capacity, know-how, knowledge and skills in this sector.
Question 3: Zorica Mowat (Gulu Independent Hospital)
As investors in Uganda we try to maintain international standards as enjoyed in the west. Thus, we employ and source specialists from all over the world to train local staff and also carry out some specialised duties.
As investors we encounter a lot of challenges especially the VISA and work permit system. The fees on work permits levied on foreign experts are too high and unjustifiable. The system should be made easier and also the fee should be more affordable.
Question 4: Ida Horner
In her 2013 – 2014 budget speech, Ugandan Finance Minister and Economic Planning, Maria Kiwanuka observed that one way of mitigating levels of unemployment and skills shortage amongst the youth in the country would be to tap into skills that exist amongst the Diaspora. She further noted that the Diaspora could potentially impart technical skills, transfer knowledge as well as lessons learned in job creation. Whilst the Minister of Finance recognises the need of tapping into the Diaspora skills set, Uganda’s policy in this area remains rigid and unfavourable for Diaspora that surrendered their Ugandan passports and not yet in possession of the dual nationality visa. Such people are still treated as foreign nationals, which means that companies looking to hire these people have to justify hiring such a people over Ugandan Nationals. This creates a policy conflict.
What is the government doing to mitigate this conflict in policy?
Question 4: Brain Drain-Gain/Incentives
What is the government doing to attract back thousands of skilled professionals and highly educated Ugandans who were lured by the Western dream? A programme needs to beput in place to facilitate and give incentives to firms in Uganda that are employing those professionals from the Diaspora.