Hon. Christine Amongin, the Minister of State for Teso Affairs reminded the audience about the 1st Ugandan UK Convention that took place in August 2011. “We came out of that Convention” she said, “with recommendations and resolute to forge the way forward in concerted efforts to make Uganda our pride and a better place to live in. We are here now to review our commitments and how to build on what we have done.”
She said that at the first Convention, the main objective of Teso Affairs Ministry was to closely oversee Government programs and ensuring their fast-tracking towards accelerated social and economic development in the Teso Region. She explained that having been a new Department of Government in the previous financial year, the Ministry operations were, to a large extent, budget constrained. However, she reported gladly that the Ministry has been allocated a vote and a budget for this financial year.
She implored Ugandans to reflect on the 50 years journey after attaining independence and quoted a phrase by science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, “A generation which ignores history has no past and no future”, which could be referred to Ugandans. “What our country has gone through over the 50 years should give us a guide to be able to choose what to do to achieve the best for our country”, she said.
She appealed to Ugandans in the Diaspora to help combat the challenges of flooding in Teso region. This could be an investment opportunity as most of the bridges get flooded, though she admitted that the government was trying to do its best to overcome this calamity. Teso region is peaceful and people should take the PPP* (public private partnership) arrangement to engage in business with the assurance of the government as a partner.
She gladly reported that since the 1st Convention, she managed to get some charities from London to work on various projects in Teso. She mention in particular River Flow Ministries who help people on agriculture development. Another charity, Ark Schools, has now constructed 12 secondary schools in the region and all these thanks to the effort of the convention which has allowed the Teso Affairs Ministry to forge good relationship with these charities.
The Minister said that Teso is open for business. Projects in value addition are needed in the region to take advantage of the abundance of cassava and potatoes. She reported some good developments in the region, including the University. His Excellency the President directed the establishment of Teso University sooner than was expected. She reported the Teso University Task Force was accordingly launched by the Minister of Education and Sports, and the university is set to commence in July 2013. She called on skilled Ugandans to go and teach in the two faculties in human resources and IT to commence with the opening of the University.
The region is also working with a Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to construct a fruit factory, which will add value to the many citrus fruit grown in the region. Teso Tropical Growers are calling upon Ugandans in London to take advantage of the investment opportunity, particularly in the agricultural sector. The Teso Affairs Ministry will continue with the emphasis on improving on performance of all agricultural programs, both in the public and private sector to strengthen agricultural production, including food security.
She assured investors that rural electrification is one of the major government policies. In pursuit of this policy, Government put in place the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to ensure electric energy is availed in the rural areas. The task is ongoing and many rural areas have been placed on the grid for eventual electricity infrastructure provision and connection.
She advised Ugandans to utilize the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995. She encouraged them to seek and obtain information from Government on any issue of importance in any sector of the economy and on Government policies so as to make informed decisions on where to contribute to the development of Uganda.
Finally, she pointed out that “we are aware of our plight, but we must recognize that opportunities exist to turn Teso around”.
She concluded by commending and thanking the organizers of the Convention for arranging this important occasion, and inviting her again to participate in it.
*PPPs allow governments to retain ownership while contracting the private sector to perform a specific function such as building, maintaining and operating infrastructure like roads and ports, or providing basic services like water and electricity. Both sides stand to benefit from the contractual agreement. Government earns revenue by leasing state-owned assets or alternatively pays the private sector for improved infrastructure and better service delivery. Often the private sector can do the job more efficiently, which can lower prices and improve rollout. The private operator gets reimbursed either by government or consumers for doing its work, at a profit