Onyekachi Wambu, director of African Foundation For Development (AFFORD), conducted a panel discussion on the importance of Diaspore engagement with development in their country of origin. In the last twenty years since a group of young Diaspora Africans in the UK came together to establish the organisation, every multilateral organisation from the World Bank, the AfDB, IMF and others now recognition the crucial role that the Diaspora play in the development of their country of origin. We know now for instance that the Diaspora remittances to Africa are far greater than foreign aid to the continent. From its offices in London, AFFORD now campaigns for Diaspora engagement at government, European Union and UN levels.
The question of dual nationality for Ugandans inevitably had a lot of interest within the convention. Among the issues of concern, was the high fees demanded for registration for a passport. It was also felt by many that there ought to be preferential treatment for members of the Diaspora who wish to invest back in Uganda. At the moment they are treated no differently from any foreign investor. Speakers noted that any incentives to the Diaspora would increase inward investment considerably, profiting not only members of the Diaspora themselves, but, the nation as a whole, through increased economic activity.
To the delight of many at the convention, Dr Francis Apetit noted that he saw no reason why the issue of dual citizenship which had after all been passed by Parliament, still had teething problems. He undertook to table questions in Parliament to ensure that all issues relating to dual citizenship were resolved without further delay.
As always, the convention provided great opportunities for networking, and the fostering of unity among Ugandans.