Flash Baxk 2014: Post Uganda-UK Convention’s discussion on the role of Diaspora and its transformation of rural areas

 Flash Baxk 2014: Post Uganda-UK Convention’s discussion on the role of Diaspora and its transformation of rural areas

DATE: 10TH OCT 2014
At: Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DX
Organised by: Willy Mutenza: Chairman, of the Ugandan Convention UK

Participants

  1. Kataike Sarah, Minister of state for Luweero Triangle
  2. Nekesa Barbara Oundo, Minister of state for Karamoja Affairs
  3. Ernest Kiiza, Minister of state for Bunyoro Affairs
  4. Christine Amongin Aporu, Minister of state for Teso Affairs
  5. Willy Mutenza, Chairman Uganda-UK Convention
  6. Elizabeth Nyeko, Director, Beconcolly
  7. Geoffrey Lutaaya
  8. David Wangusi Masinde
  9. Daisy Byaruhanga Amooti
  10. Julius Mbaluto
  11. Joshua Bwire
  12. Pastor Michael Kagyo
  13. William Lume
  14. Rashida Tidyebwa
  15. Jean-Gideon K Bugonzi
  16. Siraj Swaleh Twine
  17. Daniel Kajumba
  18. Frances Ddungu
  19. Dorothy Elangot
  20. Charles Okwalinga
  21. Steven Kasamba

IMG-20141009-WA0006

Introduction

Mr. Mutenza thanked participants and emphasized the fact that members were in attendance as a follow-up discussion from issues identified from the UK Trade& Investment Convention (2014) among other which included;

  • How can Ugandans in the UK be part of transformation and development of their rural areas?
  • “Beyond wealth, the skills and knowledge that would need to be mobilized, there is a keen sense of commitment within the Diaspora to be part of Uganda’s development. It is therefore important to look strategically at the Diaspora’s role in Uganda’s development. It is imperative to emphasize the important nexus of the power that the Diaspora community possesses through their expertise and the capital that they amass, both of which are of critical importance to Uganda’s economic development.
  • Dual citizenship and legal implications of Diaspora owning Mailo-land etc.
  • Reverse brain drain. How can the government attract its high skilled citizens?

 

Geoffrey Lutaaya

In his opening remarks, Geoffrey Lutaaya summarised the main points raised during the UK/ Uganda convention diaspora debate with Ugandan Members of Parliament.

He started by expressing satisfaction that the national diaspora policy document is before cabinet. And that Cabinet had not yet signed it off – this, he said, offered an opportunity to diaspora communities to engage in effective policy formulation. Further, he noted that as a member of the Diaspora, he does not remember being consulted on the contents of the draft policy. He suggested that it would have been prudent to consult the diaspora communities, as stakeholders, during the diaspora policy formulation – this, he suggested, is the hallmark of evidence-based policy making.

Regarding skills and appropriate knowledge transfer, Geoffrey suggested that the skills, knowledge, contacts and expertise of diaspora communities should be harnessed. This could contribute to filling knowledge gaps that exists in Uganda. He suggested that programme that can promote exchange of knowledge transfer can be worked out in order to promote brain-gain.

Geoffrey affirmed that the Ugandan diaspora are investors and partners in development. Their areas of investment include financial, intellectual and social capital. This ought to be harnessed in order to spur rural development. He noted that due to their inherent and emotional attachment to Uganda, there investments are more likely to be sustainable and geared toward long-term development of Uganda, unlike foreign investors, who most often leave once their profits are not realisable.

On the issue of dual citizenship, he pointed out anomalies such as where a parent can be a Ugandan, yet children/ next of kins who are under eighteen years of age cannot take up Ugandan citizenship. This, he noted demotivates diaspora communities, who most often want to invest for the future benefit of their children. He recommended that the dual citizenship law should be streamlined and simplified to interest diaspora communities to want to invest in Uganda. Noting that in a global economy, diaspora communities have options / choice as to where to invest. Therefore, all efforts to make Uganda their first choice of investment destination, ought to be encouraged. Lest, other countries benefit at the expense of Uganda.

Geoffrey commended government for setting up a Diaspora Desk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and /in Parliament of Uganda. He recommended that the Diaspora desk is empowered or availed appropriate resources to ensure that when Diasporas visit home – in process of making their investment – they can have a one-stop service as time is of the essence – diaspora communities cannot afford over bureaucratic processes.

He concluded by recommending that something beyond a desk needs to be created in the ministry of foreign affairs through which we can go and get our issues sorted out. Countries like Mexico, India and Ghana have gone beyond having a desk to creating mechanism through which resources – money, skills, contacts etc. can be channeled to deliver identified investable projects for their Diaspora communities.

Further, Geoffrey highlighted the benefits of twining. Twining, he noted, had been used successfully to share knowledge and expertise – build capacity at various levels. This would be especially useful for Ugandan local government administrations, as it requires minimal budgetary support.

He cited Venerable Danny Kajumba (Arch Deacon of Reigate) as being well networked in the UK; can help to promote twinning between local governments in UK and Uganda.

The above point was reinforced by Ven. Kajumba, noting that with a properly thought out – comprehensive – plan, a lot of resources can be tapped into in the UK through churches, local administrations and other institutions.

Wangusi Masinde supplemented on the point of putting in place a system that Ugandans in the diaspora can feel more comfortable with so as to invest in Uganda . Adding that many have saved enough money to be able to start micro projects.

In response, Hon. Ernest Kiiza supported Geoffrey Lutaaya’s proposal on twinning institutions in UK with their counterparts in Uganda. He urged members of the Diasporas to identify, and share such opportunities with members of parliament and other stakeholders. Hon Kiiza noted the importance of being proactive so as to tap into opportunities in a timely manner.

Following Hon. Kataike’s overview of the agricultural development in Luwero / Rwenzori. And particularly, her comment that there was an over – supply of maize in Luwero – that could go to waste, Geoffrey expressed disappointment, at the apparent failure to plan ahead. He noted that with effective project planning, the entire process from planting to post harvest handling, including value addition and risk management, ought to be mapped out in advance. “How can farmers be encouraged to grow maize without a full understanding of markets that can absorb the surplus?”

Geoffrey suggested that farmers’ confidence can be restored if markets are secured; a post-harvest programme put in place including purchasing surplus maize from farmers etc. In United Kingdom, farmers’ house-hold incomes are assured through training etc. on forward planning, marketing etc. In addition, such an approach helps to maintain constant supply and acceptable return on farmers’ investments.

In his closing remarks, Geoffrey noted that whereas, the Ugandan government indicates that it values the contribution of the diaspora to Uganda’s development, it (government) ought to enhance this value by extending voting rights to the diaspora. The current $800 million remittance, he suggested, could even increase further, if avenues for diaspora participation in the voting process in Uganda were created.

 

William Lume

Started by saying that Uganda is not desperate for Diaspora skills besides their remittance as there is an oversupply of skilled personal. He sighted that the generation that used to send money is growing old and most of them are not comfortable to get old in the UK. Most of the money this aging generation sends home if for general welfare consumption and for immediate problems like funerals, schools fees and the like.

He wondered if the government of Uganda had a clear idea or plan on how to use Diaspora money for development and at the same time address problems of Diasporas who are aging and want to return home but may not have adequately prepared themselves. The drawback is their children do not intend to send money once the parents have returned to Uganda – the way the parents have been remitting.

Therefore, a mechanism needs to be put in place to interest our children. Enabling them to send money not only as welfare money but more for investment for themselves. Thus, a policy or mechanism needs to be put in place to facilitate Ugandans who are aging and needs support to be able to come home.

William thanked the government for including UPDF into agriculture and he suggested that it should be expanded into other sectors like natural resources and other investment areas because it is the most disciplined institution in the country. He further suggested that it can be linked with Diasporas because they do also have disciplined money which is not available in Uganda.

He gave an example of China which targeted Diaspora money in order to spur its economic growth and development they do enjoy today. The government can create investment funds where Diasporas can invest in and that funds can be invested in infrastructure projects in rural areas. Diaspora can comfortably invest their pensions not only that but also their children would be interested to invest in that. An institution like a Uganda development bank so that Diaspora can send their pension and other savings to that bank and also the government of Uganda can promise to add an addition monetary incentive on top of Diaspora money invested in that scheme/bank. (eg. .10pence on top of every £1 invested) And the UK can also be lobbied to do likewise.

William said that Ugandans in the Diaspora are putting a number of obstacles to Uganda, he wondered how he managed to travel to Uganda and register for the recent national ID programme without any problem because he went to his home village.

William urged that there is a low understanding of the Diaspora from the cabinet level and above, cited an example from China where a special focus was done from the highest level of the government on the potential and contributions of the diaspora and how can be directly enhanced into development. Suggested that Mutenza or someone in his influential position to start actively engaging the government at the highest level to deal with Diaspora matters. An independent commission can be appointed to represent Diaspora matters at the highest level of government of Uganda beyond a desk or an officer in a ministry or parliament committee.

Hon Ernest supported the idea of a development bank in order to channel development and he said that it is being discussed in the parliament and will be rejuvenated.

 

Frances Ddungu

Frances cited a comment made by Willy Mutenza on a video he posted on his Facebook as a reaction of actress Raven-Symone rejecting to be labelled ‘African-American’ as so many Ugandans doing the same thing disowning being Ugandans and prefer to be called British because they feel more proud of it or just because they were born in the UK. Frances associated the-disconnect of our children in the Diaspora to not being involved in policy making or anything that pertains to them as Diasporas or feel part of the country.

She pointed out that the law on dual citizenship does not accept our children born in the Diaspora to become citizen until they are 18 years old. Thus, for Diasporas who have already complied with the dual-citizenship and are doing their will, will not be able to pass on their investment in a will to their children because they are not allowed according to Ugandans laws especially on Mailo-land. Thus, this puts off Diasporas because they are not sure of their investment can be claimed by their children and these are the people Uganda government needs to target in order to keep flowing of remittance in the country in the future. This also brings in confusion in families where parents are Ugandan but their children cannot automatically inherit their citizenship.

Frances suggested an amendment in the bill to consider Diaspora children be accepted as citizens as long as their parents are.

The president recently on a tour in Texas announced that “the problem of losing Ugandan citizenship was resolved when he pushed for the amendment of the Constitution to allow for dual citizenship, including for children born to Ugandan women living abroad”. And we hope this can be implemented. In the same meeting the president pledged to strengthen it by appointing an officer that reports directly to him to highlight issues raised by Ugandans living abroad. “My other amendment was also for our girls. Tradition only follows the boys, but now the girls’ offsprings have a right to dual citizenship. If Muhoozi comes and gets a child here, genetically and technically, that child is a Musiita. What I added is that if my Natasha also comes here and gets a child, that child has the same right,” “The President said he would work to stop the payment of visa fees for Ugandans with dual citizenship and urged Ugandan scientists living and working abroad to return home and work for their country since their remuneration has been improved to make it attractive”.
HE Museveni said. (ref: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/660062-expect-shake-up-in-uia-museveni.html)

There was a general suggestion for there to be a follow up for us to know or get the feedback from the ministers after they have presents our discussed points to cabinet.

 

Frances Ddungu also suggested  there to be a mirror of the present forum in Uganda which can be approachable to assisting people with information and other practical advise when they get to Uganda to ensure that our matters are followed up and to reduce the frustration of feeling alone and lost when diaspora members go to Uganda.

 

On the issue of dual nationality, Frances Ddungu pointed out that patents can consent to their children becoming Uganda citizen just in the same way they can consent for example for them to have a major operation. The law can have a provision whereby the children who obtained dual nationality via the consent of parents can be required to take an oath when they reach 18 years, if necessary.

 

On the issue of the diaspora policy, Frances Ddungu suggested for the draft policy to be emailed to all of us as an attachment so that we can make an input before it’s presented to parliament.

 

There was also a consensus suggestion that us in the diaspora we need to be represented by something bigger – such as a commissioner other than mere diaspora information desk as it stands because our contribution to the country’s economy is that big.

 

There was also a consensus that smaller focus group meetings were more effective.

 

Members were also informed about Fred’s appointment as a department leader for the Uganda diaspora.

 

 

Jean-Gideon K Bugonzi

He suggested that the government should encourage Ugandans in the Diaspora to register for the on-going National Identity Cards. His issue was also supported by the president’s recent remark in the USA as per above reference.

He also recommended for the easiness of the investment license qualifier fee to be reduced to an affordable amount for most Ugandan investors in the Diaspora.

Hon. Ernest said that those who are able to travel to Uganda from the Diaspora are free to register and no one will stop anyone.

Gideon also suggested that the Uganda UK Convention should be extended to two days in order to give opportunities for others to be able to interact with some of the government VIP guests.

Mutenza, the organiser responded that by extending the convention to two days has a cost implication which we do not have the capacity unless if the government comes in and facilitates it.

 

Amongin Aporu Christine Hellen (MP), Minister of State for Teso Affairs

Hon Amongin presented her concept paper which highlighted a lot of contentious issues.

She said that since the 1990s, Uganda has enjoyed strong and impressive gross domestic product (GDP) growth supported by prudent macroeconomic management. However, although Uganda registered 7.1% growth in GDP in fiscal year 2008/09, this was below the projected growth of 8.9%. Furthermore, analysis at sectoral level reveals differences in performance, notably the poor performance of the coffee sub-sector, resulting in an overall poor performance by the cash crop sector. The drastic deceleration of the construction sub-sector had impacts for the overall performance of the industry sector. The agriculture sector grew, although from a low base. Studies have shown that Uganda seems to have emerged from its vulnerability to the second-round effects of the mid 2007-2009 global financial crisis without serious damage to its financial sector relative to Kenya with the main pillar being through the balance of payments. Specifically, the main transmission channels which cushioned Uganda against the crisis have included trade, private capital flows, private transfers and aid.

 

Remittances

Aid

International remittances have become a major source of external development finance, and have been found to be relatively more stable and more dependable than other forms of foreign-exchange inflows such as Portfolio Equity (PE), Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), and may even counter a financial crisis in the economy in times of economic recession.

 

The flow of remittances to developing countries including Uganda has attracted increasing attention because of the volume and impact on the receiving countries. According to a 2011 Report of the African Development Bank, between 2000 and 2010, individuals living outside their countries grew from 175 to 215 million people worldwide, representing 3.2% of the world’s population. According to the Bank, in 2010, official recorded remittances received amounted to US$ 293 billion, exceeding total official development aid (US$90 billion), and amounted to roughly sixty-three per cent of foreign direct investment inflows (US$463 billion) received by developing countries in that year. Very often however, the remittances’ transfers are backed by self-interest motives.

 

Uganda, like many countries the world over, face a lot of unprecedented economic turbulences as a result of fall in commodity prices (such as oil and other petroleum products, coffee, steel, gold and wheat), civil conflict and wars, crop and livestock loss as natural disasters. These countries must cope with such shocks as they affect the national wealth, the government’s future financial plans and the growth of the economy. They do this by relying on external financial flows in times when they experience these transitory income shocks.

 

As part of a private welfare system, remittances transfer purchasing power and help to reduce poverty, smooth consumption, affect labour supply, provide working capital and can have multiplier effects through increased spending.

 

The questions are: 1) Are remittances a buffer and stable for the Ugandan economy? 2) Do remittances have a stabilizing impact for the Ugandan economy? and 3) Can remittances propel the economy in the direction of its overall development goal?

 

From the macroeconomic perspective, international remittances constitute a major source of foreign exchange, influence the national balance of payments, and represent a substantial share of the gross domestic product in many countries hence Uganda too.

 

The remittances help Uganda to narrow the gap of economic standing and disparities between its economy and that of other countries. According to the African Development Bank, remittances have been known to exceed official aid transfers in some regions and act as a buffer from economic shocks.

 

However, international remittances, in general, can render the citizens vulnerable to changes in global economic shocks if spent on unproductive investment and short-term consumption gains.

 

There are three broad sectoral areas of potential investment are 1) agriculture, forestry and fisheries 2) industry; and 3) services

Under stable world prices, remittances will serve as a macroeconomic stabilizer to smooth out large fluctuations in the national income observed over different phases of the business cycles. The stability of these inflows also opens up an opportunity for developing countries to lower borrowing costs in international capital markets by securitizing future flows of remittances.

 

For the majority of the larger economies examined by the African Development Bank, the investment motive of remittances is stronger than the altruistic motive. By this motive, a more stable economic environment is created.

 

Civil conflicts, high levels of unemployment, poor governance, weak regulatory frameworks and institutions are some of the factors together among others that have resulted in high levels of poverty and general economic deprivation leading to regular and consistent migration of both skilled and unskilled labour to other regions of the world in search of better working and living conditions.

Uganda is one of those countries in Sub-Saharan Africa graded as 60-90% of their labour force is employed in agriculture, with most of its activities still at the subsistence level and thus vulnerable to climate change and global warming.

Bank of Uganda is currently reviewing and assessing the informal remittances and the figures are expected to be higher than the known amount. According to the Word Bank, informal remittances to sub-Saharan Africa are relatively high, at 45-65 per cent of the amount of formal remittances. Relative to GDP, remittances were approximately 34% of GDP in Lesotho, approximately 5% in Uganda, the Gambia, Togo, Senegal, Cape Verde, Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Mali.

 

The conclusion here is that even though remittances may be generally small as a share of GDP, in majority cases it may amount to a large share of the income of recipient households and may therefore have a substantial impact on the stability of these households’ income and play a role in insuring the families against transitory shocks to income in the economy and the households.

 

Aid

While official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries is expected to be adversely affected by any reversals in economic fortunes, there is little evidence to suggest that this has been the case in Uganda. According to the World Bank report, there was a declining trend in ODA to Uganda since 2006/07, and in particular the report revealed that ODA declined from $426.60 million in 2007/08 to $401.96 million in 2008/09 (5.8%), and ODA reached its lowest level in 2008/09. Whether this can be attributed to the global financial crisis during the global financial crisis has not been established.

The World Bank reported that inflows to NGOs declined from $547.23 million in 2007/08 to $453.64 million in 2008/09, representing a year-on-year reduction of 17.1%. However, calls to and commitments by Western countries to increase aid to developing countries have continued.

In the Report of the African Development Bank (2008), Uganda has a longstanding migratory tradition associated with its political history and geography. Yet little is known of how large the size of the emigrant population or diaspora is or about the extent of the economic activities migrants have with Uganda. Using available Albeit Limited survey data, expert interviews and data collected from the Central Bank, commercial banks, microfinance institutions and foreign exchange bureaus, there may be as many as 3 million Ugandans living abroad, much larger than what official records show. More importantly, just over 800,000 Ugandan migrants may be remitting a total of US$700 million, a figure similar to earlier Uganda Central Bank statistics. The top destinations for Ugandan emigrants are the United Kingdom, Tanzania, the United States, Canada, Rwanda, Sweden, and Kenya, among others. The UK in particular is home to a large Ugandan diaspora community, due in part, to colonial ties between the countries and the fact that prior to 1990, Ugandans did not need a visa to travel to the UK.

 

According to a household survey on migration and remittances in Uganda, conducted by Bendixen and Associates, 42% of Ugandans have a relative abroad, amounting to 2.9 million Ugandans, 30% of which are living in the United Kingdom. This 2.9 million figure may be more suggestive than other figures of the population abroad, given the three generational migration groups recognized by the literature on political history and migration from Uganda.

 

The mobility of labor abroad has been accompanied by a series of economic relationships that migrants establish with their home country. These relationships include exchanges such as phone calls, importation of home country goods, remittance transfers to their families, or investment in real estate or small businesses. In the case of Uganda, data, statistical records, or evidence of these types of relationships is unknown.

 

Although the validity of the statistics is still under consideration the inbound remittances to Uganda tripled from 2005 to 2007 to nearly US$900 million, representing 10% of the country’s GDP and approximately 800,000 person to person transfers. As a result the 2007 Bank of Uganda estimate yielded US$476 million. Using data from money transfer companies, the average remitted is US$350 at a frequency of 9 times a year (for a total of US$3150 per year), a situation that may yield a lower number of person to person transfers.

 

The money transfer business to facilitate easy transfer of remittances from abroad was addressed by liberalization of the foreign exchange transactions in the later years of 1980s. Diaspora Ugandans may wish to participate and establish this business in our country.

 

Marketplace dynamics for remittance transfers in Uganda

Uganda’s licensed marketplace for money transfers is predominantly dominated by the two largest money transfer operators (MTOs), Western Union and MoneyGram, and distributed by banks as agents in collaboration with microfinance institutions as subagents, as well as foreign exchange bureaus (both as agents and subagents). On the remittance origination side, the remittance landscape is not competitive, and in the payout destination, there are more players participating but there is room for more competition.

 

Money Transfer Regulatory Framework:

The regulatory environment governing money transfers in Uganda is led by foreign exchange laws. The Exchange Control Act of 1964, which established controls on foreign exchange inflows and outflows, has been progressively amended. It allowed foreign exchange bureaus to operate and, after 1997, allowed liberalized funds transfers. Currently, the Foreign Exchange regulation of 2006 established who is allowed to obtain a money transfer license. The regulation establishes various classes of licensed institutions and requirements. In section 15 (3) the law stipulates the classes:

(a) Class A—International Money Transfer Agency Licence; (b) Class B—Forex Bureau and Money Remittance Licence; (c) Class C—Direct Entrants Licence; or (d) Class D—Sub‐Agency Licence.

 

To obtain a license, a company must exhibit:

(i)a clear license to operate in the base country; (ii) a good track record of conducting money remittance business; (iii) a recommendation from the regulatory authority in the base country; (iv) a minimum paid ‐up share capital of two thousand and five hundred currency points; (v) the ability to comply with all applicable anti‐money laundering and combating of financing of terrorism standards and measures; (vi) acceptable Agency Agreements.

 

To date, in addition to the main banks there are 35 licensed companies paying remittances. The large majority of businesses are paying for Western Union and MoneyGram. There are also other MTOs operating in the country such as Coinstar, Salabed International, and DahabShill.

 

According to a 2010 Bendixen’s survey, remittances through MTOs and banks are 70% of the total market. Diasporas need to know the following facts to build confidence and realize the strength of the financial remittances and transactions in the Ugandan economy:

 

  • Twelve percent of Ugandan households receive remittances in amounts of over US$200 per transfer;
  • At least US$700 million per year, or a little over 800,000 transfers per month, are going into the country;
  • Money transfers from the main MTOs may be originating some 200,000 person to person transfers from the United States and the United Kingdom each month;
  • Banks and foreign exchange bureaus are the main licensed payers of remittances, followed by a network of microfinance institutions together conducting around 80% of the payments;
  • Financial intermediation is an important factor considered among banks while performing money transfers, yet practical knowledge or metrics of how many remittance recipients are being benefited are missing;
  • More than 50% of remittance recipients are saving, but they are more likely to be doing so outside of financial institutions.
  • Sensitization is ongoing by the Uganda Communications Commission for communities to learn about outbound transfers with focus on rural areas and cross‐border flows.

 

Way Forward:

 

Government formed a Diaspora office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is to coordinate activities of the Ministry with those of the Ministries of Trade, and Finance.

 

Diaspora Bond: Bank of Uganda (BOU) finalized a feasibility study for the Diaspora bond and it could be auctioned later this year. This is a method to ensure secure investment by purchase of Bank of Uganda Bonds or Treasury Bills. The investment compendium and the Diaspora bond will be important for the Diaspora to start investing locally. This arrangement will address most of the constraints that Ugandans abroad face when investing home

 

Ugandans abroad should use the compendium to earmark areas of investment back home. Foreign missions will supplement downloadable copies on the Ministries of Trade, Foreign Affairs and the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA)

 

Ugandans abroad remit close to $767m (sh1.99 trillion) back home each year. Top sources are Kenya at $326m, the UK at $176m, and the US with $87.4m accounting for over 70% of all remittances.

 

Ugandans abroad should use the compendium to earmark areas of investment back home. Foreign missions will supplement downloadable copies on the Ministries of Trade, Foreign Affairs and the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA)

 

SUMMARY – REMITTANCES FROM ABROAD

  1. Diaspora remittances are critical to the livelihoods of recipient families back home because they help in meeting basic needs. The reduction in remittances, therefore, means that a sizeable portion of Ugandans could be driven into financial difficulty.
  2. In addition, as the report notes, remittances into the country have been key to seeing the shilling rebound against the dollar – although the decline in imports can contribute immensely to this trend.
  3. Until last year, remittances from abroad had been increasing. It had been projected that Ugandans living abroad could transfer as much as $1billion in 2014. The World Bank, indeed, forecasts that as the European economies rebound, we are likely to see an increase in the remittances.
  4. The bank wishes to see financial institutions help the beneficiaries to use the money wisely. The primary impact of remittances is on the living standards of the direct remittance beneficiaries.
  5. With a saving culture promoted by financial institutions and adopted by beneficiary families for small loans for microenterprises, it is likely that the portion of remittances saved and invested would grow from current levels.
  6. BoU has strengthened its monitoring surveillance of the risks that could affect the banking system although there are no major risks to the banking system at the moment as a result of the “strong financial conditions of the banks.
  7. Arising from the assurances of a stable financial system in Uganda bigger, stronger and long-term investments should be focused by the Uganda Diaspora in the near future.

Other Issues

  1. The Brain Drain Phenomenon
  2. Human Resources as critical capital to development
  3. Diaspora Human Resource strength
  4. Diaspora Investment in the Human Resource Development in Uganda
  5. Way Forward
  • Government strategy to attract high skilled citizens in Diaspora to come to strengthen the home workforce:
  • Dual Citizenship
  • Motivation
  • Tourism – Marketing & participation in promotion of Uganda as No. 1 tourist destination

 

TOURISM

  1. Tourism has for the first time became Uganda’s biggest export earner after it fetched $1.4bn in financial year 2013/2014, up from $1.1bn the year before, according to the Central Bank’s monetary policy statement for August 2014.
  2. Diaspora workers’ remittances, long the dominant sector when it came to calculating export receipts, registered the second position, with coffee in third. Remittances from Ugandans living abroad was roughly $800m during FY 2013/2014, although the African Development Bank expects this figure to reach $1bn this financial year
  3. Uganda is regarded Africa’s best destination for birders. The country boasts of more than 1,058 bird species, accounting for 11 per cent of the globe’s total, and half of Africa’s.
  4. There are many cultures in Uganda that could be developed to become tourism attractions. Key attractions include the celebrations to mark Martyrs day every third day of June that continue to attract thousands of people. There are plans by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to market it as a tourism attraction. Cultural activities such as dances, for example, akoogo and ajos dances in Teso; the circumcision ceremony (imbalu) in Mbale and others attract thousands of people.
  5. Tourism is not only about wildlife and nature. Uganda has 56 tribes and all have different cultures and heritages and all are unique. In Kenya, the Maasai are used as a tourist attraction.

Challenges

UTB has insufficient funds to effectively promote the industry. Diaspora can play a significant role in promoting Uganda as a tourist destination of choice.

 

The minister said that Teso has a lot of partnerships especially in the agriculture sector. Agro-processing, irrigation and value addition is the missing investment to spur growth in the region. Also the education sector in the region still lacks partners and skilled people to fill some gaps. She also encouraged Diasporas to start donating skills to their community and they cannot utilise it in their own areas. And she pointed that UIA has not been very welcoming to Diasporas but the President is making it clear for every Ugandan to come home and invest with no hurdles.

Hon. Ernest Kiiza supported the argument that people in the Diaspora should be taken as investors and partners in development. And he assured that the government will take it up.

The minister appreciated the effort by Willy Mutenza and also assumed that foreign affairs has been facilitating the convention and she will ensure that they discuss facilitating the UK Convention like the USA convention. She agreed the fact that most of the discussion at the UK convention and in various UK engagement there is no politics discussed and she appreciate UK Diasporas.

 

Hon. Kataike Sarah Ndoboli, Minister of State for Luwero Triangle

Hon. Kataike commended the Diaspora group that we cannot keep on looking at the past and she is happy the group is much focused looking for future solutions.

She commended the support from UPDF officers assigned to strengthen and support the special programme to increase food production especially cash crops.

She appealed to Ugandans in the Diaspora to come and be partners and take advantage of investment opportunities. She had recently mobilised Luwero region to grow a lot of maize and now they do have a surplus which pose opportunities like food processing and the supply and production chain has various opportunities.

The minister cited most of the challenges emanates from un-mechanised agriculture where farmers are still using manual hoe farming. Diasporas should come in and improve on modern farming skills coupled with mechanised farming.

Also cooperatives can be established to mobilise collective funding in order to invest in mobilised schemes.

She also said that farmers are capable to produce and even increase production as long as market availability is assured.

Uganda has a free agriculture zone where land has been allocated and more investors are needed to come and take advantage of this provision of opportunity.

Post-harvest handling is also lacking due to lacking of proper infrastructure and this is also another opportunity for investment.

The minister assured Diasporas that some of the critical issue like dual citizenship will be take into the parliament for debate.

The minister appreciated the fact that Mutenza has managed to engage the government on various issues concerning Diasporas and assured that even the government is committed to be partners.

The Minister said that Luwero Rwenzori Development Programme’s primary objective is to redress the socio-economic effects of previous conflict in the region.

In furtherance of this objective, the Luwero Rwenzori Development Programme was established and is currently being implemented. The stated objectives of the programme are:

  • To improve the economic well-being of 105 households per parish in 523 parishes by enabling them to earn at least shs 20 million a year by 2015;
  • To repair and improve the condition of 2,300 km district roads; 29,000 km community access roads and 30 km urban roads to a motorable state by 2015;
  • To increase the safe water coverage of 11 districts which are below the national level coverage to 65% by 2015;
  • To protect and sustainably manage the environment;
  • To increase access to renewable energy to service delivery points and rural growth centres by 2015;
  • To ensure that there is a Government aided primary school and secondary school in all parishes;
  • To improve the health service delivery;
  • To increase access and use of Information and Communication Technology in the regions;
  • To promote peace, reconciliation and strengthen community based conflict mitigation and management within communities.

The LRDP targets 40 districts from Central and Western Uganda; they are: Buliisa, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Hoima, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kalangala, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kayunga, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Kirihura, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Luwero, Lyantonde, Masaka, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Lwengo, Masindi, Kiryandongo, others include: Mbarara, Mityana, Mpigi, Gombe, Mubende, Mukono, Buikwe, Buvuma, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Wakiso, Rakai, Sembabule and Gomba.

 

Hon Kataike assured Diaspora investors that the government has a clear effort to improve on procedures and has the will to streamline systems on how they deal with Diasporas.

Hon Kataike responded to Geoffrey Lutaaya’s disappointment on maize surplus. She said that mobilising farmers was an immediate measure to curb food security but it ended up being a successful programme with a lot of surplus and they are working on the mechanism to absorb food surplus and post-harvest production.

 

Charles Okwalinga

Charles raised a point that an institution in the Diaspora needs to be establish an organisation that coordinates and facilitate issues of the Diaspora. He expressed disappointment that meetings like this do not serve a purpose with a central organisation that can discuss issues consistently both online and offline. He pointed out a point of harnessing Diaspora resources beyond remittance. He promised that he is embarking on a project to establish an organisation that will be coordinating policies and issues of Diasporas.

Charles said that he is disappointed because he thought the room would be full of Ugandans. Rev Danny Kajumba made a point of information in responding to Charles that it was the intention of the meeting to have a limited number of people in order to be able to discuss on issues comprehensively.

Frances Ddungu also supported the idea of a forum that can support Diaspora investors as the bureaucracy and government institutions are very frustrating in Uganda.

 

Dorothy Elangot

Dorothy, said she would like and she is in the process of starting up a HR Consultancy. She plans to use it to help not only those well qualified Ugandans who would like to go back home (Uganda) and get jobs but more so to help with the youth unemployment back home.  She said, she would like to help the well-educated youth develop those important skills which add value, hence help them compete on an international level.

 

Dorothy said, with her back ground of working in UK Job Centre, dealing with unemployed, plus the connections she has from her former university Middlesex University, London and the fact she’s a HR professional she would like to introduce and improve on ‘soft skills’, which include; customer service, communication etc. which are a big problem back home.

 

Dorothy said although she has started the process, she expressed difficulties and requested for help and collaboration from the government in terms of joint organization, planning/working with her.

 

Dorothy also expressed the difficulty she is having in transporting the free sports kit she gets to take for the youth back to Uganda.

 

Hon Ernest Kiiza promised to give support to Dorothy on her issues of establishing a HR consultancy. Both Hon Kiiza and Hon. Christine Amongin Aporu promised to discuss the sports kit issue with the minister of Education & sports and finance regarding the charity sports kits being charged taxes.

 

Siraj Swaleh Twine

Siraj thanked the effort and love exhibited by the ministers to come and meet us and also the effort by Willy Mutenza for the effort and patriotism he always exhibits. He urged Ugandans never to give up in investing and loving their country.

He made a critical issue that some of institutions here in UK dispose of their computers every two years and some of these computers are better in terms of quality some of computers imported in Uganda. He made this point in reference to the law passed in June 2009 where the Ugandan Government passed the Financial Bill which prohibited the import of “used refrigerators, freezers, computers and television sets” from October 2009. The background to the legislation was a concern that Uganda was not dealing properly with the issue of e-waste.

He requested the ministers to re-table the law and either classify computers either by operating system or processor power otherwise we are missing out and it has slowed down the roll out of IT in many schools and slowed down a lot of work for businesses.

According to United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) about 15 percent of all computer imports, are used computers while the majority are clones. As the ban goes on, over 1,500 schools and tertiary institutions could not offer computer lessons as they relied entirely on donations of used computers.

 

“The ban has also widened the digital divide between the rural and urban, the poor and the rich, as very few people could afford to buy new computers. For three years, it has hurt Ugandan consumers by depriving them of low-cost, used computers” quoted Fred Kiapi, the executive director of Commonwealth People’s Association of Uganda (CPAUG).

 

Joshua Bwire

Joshua proposed a Diaspora Desk Website where they can share ideas and access information regarding issues that affect us and our country.  For example; consulting us on the Diaspora bill would be easier if the draft bill is posted on the website and we are asked to submit our views online. And all services by the Diaspora desk would be on this website portal.

 

He further proposed websites for MP. MP Websites not only provide a cheap platform where MP can engage and interact with their constituents but also, they enable constituents’ access their MPs, voice their concerns and be able to hold them accountable.

Websites give MP the ability to share information and attract both local and foreign investment to their communities with much ease and at no extra cost. For example, the Hon. Ministers would not have laboured detailing the investments opportunities present in their respective communities if much of that information was already on their websites, and not only would that information be accessed by the local communities they represent as Hon. Sarah Kataike commented but by both the Diaspora and foreign investors they are trying to attract.

 

Stephen Kasamba

Kasamba thanked the ministers for sparing the time for engaging Diasporas. As someone who runs a cultural and drama group, he sees himself as an ambassador for Uganda’s culture but expressed concern that in most of the schools that he teaches drama, Kenya seems to be known more than any other country in the region. He thinks that support is needed from the government to in promoting Uganda’s culture more in the UK. He says that culture is neglected in Uganda yet it is very diverse and rich.

Hon Aporu said that one of the reasons why they visited USA recently and the government is aware of the issue.

Daisy Byaruhanga Amooti

Daisy said that the government needs to have clear polices to demystify misconception and mistrust within people minds. What is the social responsibility? Have the environment and climate effects been considered, thus clear guidance or policies need to be addressed.

She said that during the convention Hon Nantaba promised that land issues are being streamlined and everything will be online to clarify some pending issues.

She requested the government to sensitize local Banyoro on the disadvantage of selling of their land for peanuts and most of them end up becoming homeless due to the fact that money acquired from land selling is not enough for starting a business.

Another issue she expressed is the frustration of registering an NGO in Uganda and she failed to have one registered though she had a potential investor who was promising a £250K. Ease of registering NGO’s needs to be streamlined.

Transfer of skills to Uganda needs also to have a system that can facilitate and guide those who are willing to transfer their skills.

Herbal medicine needs to harness more than it is as it is a big industry that just needs government intervention.

Hon Aporu added that Uganda should not only rely on western medicine. She was recently in China to see how they utilise herbal medicine and she supports research into herbal medicine and this meeting should make a resolve of some discussed points which includes dual citizenship, remittance and research into herbal medicine.

 

Zaharah Kayongo

Zaharah made an observation from a neutral perspective; she expressed some disappointment from some of the points which were raised highlighting only personal perspectives. She argued that it is hard to change or influence development if a vision is self-centered. She proposed to Ugandans in the Diaspora to initiate programmes or projects in order to have a case study before even inviting the government to come in for support.

 

Summary

Hon Ernest Kiiza closed the meeting by:

  • Ensuring Ugandans that most of the raises issues would be discussed and handled accordingly.
  • He confirmed that UIA is being made as a one stop centre to allow ease of registering a business within one or two days.
  • Taxation on agriculture equipment’s and products was an outcry for everybody, he said and he promised that the cabinet is currently discussing it.
  • The matter of government to buy surplus maize from farmers would be discussed in parliament as it is a good proposal by Geoffrey Lutaaya.
  • Kiiza said that the government has the will to fight the vice of corruption but in order to win the battle we should fight together.
  • He also pledged to raise the topic to the appropriate ministries (ICT and finance) regarding: the classification and ban on used computers
  • On responding to the issue raised by Daisy on sharing resources from oil, Hon Kiiza confirmed that a public finance bill is being discussed in parliament and the issue of how to share oil revenues is well catered for in the bill. Regional districts will be getting 7%.
  • The minister agreed with Zaharah that people needs to push a bigger development plan rather than a personal agenda.
  • “Voting rights for Diaspora is a critical issue and needs to be considered to extend voting rights either online or through the Embassies” He said.
  • He affirmed that the issue of creating a commission the highest level needs to be established and will be fast tracked and will be discussed with the head of state and cabinet

 

Prepared by WILLY MUTENZA

Chairman – UGANDAN UK CONVENTION

Tel: 07790 647089 | 0207 237 7317

FB: facebook.com/ugandan.conventionuk | Ytube: ugandansinuk

www.ugandanconventionuk.org

2015 Convention: DATE: Saturday, 12 September 2015 | TIME: 09.30 – 19.00

Leave a Reply