The Vice President HE Edward K Ssekandi during his keynote speech stated that the UK Convention is an opportunity for all delegates to map out the social economic destiny of our country Uganda. He recognised and appreciated the very important role that Ugandans in the Diaspora play. The Vice President expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the government and people of Uganda, for having been able to participate in this forum and gladly noted that a cross-section of experts, business leaders, professionals, representatives from prominent bodies based in Uganda, UK and everywhere had graced this forum. “I am convinced that the third Ugandan forum shall enable us to develop new business ideas, form business partnerships, create networks and suggest best solutions for Uganda’s development” he said.. He reiterated that the road to development and growth is partly vested in investment by local Ugandans and foreign investors.
He then proceeded to outline Government plans to establish a fully pledged department to handle Diaspora matters in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that a legal frame work shall be put in place to support the national Diaspora and that its policy key objectives will be:
- Promotion of dual -citizenship
- Extending visiting rights and participation in the electoral process
- Creating platforms for the Ugandan Diaspora to participate in national development planning and policy formulation.
- Creation of economical opportunities including operating Diaspora Forex accounts, access Diaspora bank and the purchase of Diaspora bonds.
- Promotion of the Diaspora rights and observation of the Diaspora week
“This is an effort by the government to be accountable to her people both at home and the Diaspora” he reiterated. He informed delegates that the government has always endeavoured to ensure a safe, stable and conducive environment for business by instituting appropriate policies and putting in place physical infrastructure to ease the conduct of doing business in Uganda.
“In this regards therefore” HE Sekandi said, “ the government is working on the necessary legal framework to provide public private partnerships based on the desire to have public goods with private participation and meet efficiency in service delivery. This will also save public funds for other priorities, hence a public private partnership bill 2012 is currently before Uganda parliament for appropriation.
The Vice President stated that over the years the government has advanced much which Ugandans ought to be proud of. He shared some statistics to illustrate the economic recovery as follows; tax collection has risen from 5 billion shillings in 1986 to 9475 billion in this financial year 2013-2014, which has empowered the government to create an energy fund which has helped fund a number of energy regeneration and transmission projects including a total of 17905 of electricity distribution lines now being put up while load shedding has become history. In the transport sub-sector, the Vice President said the government of Uganda has been able to fund reconstruction, rehabilitation and periodical maintenance of roads using internally generated funds.
He reported that the 2.3 Trillion Uganda shillings for roads in this year’s budget will enable government to upgrade a number of roads to tarmac, and with the discovery of oil, Uganda’s strategic importance has gone up and that the oil sector and related businesses shall enormously fast track the transformation drive of the country. He then called on those interested in the oil and gas sector to work towards its success.
He also highlighted the main factors that make Uganda a prime investment destination:
Predictable business environment
A fully liberalized economy
He revealed that an investor can freely bring in and repatriate their money, market accessibility, security for investment, tax exemption, duty free import for plant machinery and many other incentives which all make Uganda today ripe for investment in the following sectors:
Agro- business, Fishery, Forestry, Manufacturing, Mining, Financal services, Tourism, IT and Infrastructure
Mr Ssekandi reminded delegates that significant effort is needed to develop physical and non- physical infrastructure as a way of ensuring faster development in the country and that given the cross-section of business minded people in the forum he was hopeful that a lot would be achieved through the UK Uganda Investment Forum 2013.
In conclusion, the Vice President categorically stated that the government of Uganda and its people are proud of Ugandans in the Diaspora because they have not forgotten their country by demonstrating their love and commitment to develop Uganda by the kind of investments they are making in Uganda.
He assured delegates that government will protect their interests and ensure that Ugandans in the Diaspora have a say in policy formulation of Uganda.
He reiterated that Diasporans have a right to have the kind government they want He ended his speech by thanking the organisers for such a successful event and the sponsors for the good heart.
For God and My Country
Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi,
Vice President, Republic of Uganda