The Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga started her address by extending greetings to the delegates from the President, Parliament and the people of Uganda.
“Fellow Ugandans” Hon Kadaga said, “I also want to thank you all in the Diaspora for the contribution to our economy which we cannot take for granted. We really want to thank you for your support.”
The Speaker noted that the 50th anniversary of Uganda’s independence was an opportunity for people to reflect on who they are and what they can do for themselves and their country. She reminded delegates that when we received the instruments of office in 1962, we did not expect our citizens to live abroad permanently. “But circumstances of different kind forced people of Uganda to leave the country to settle initially perhaps only temporarily, which later became more permanent”, she lamented.
Hon. Kadaga reminded delegates that many Ugandans living abroad have studied and made careers there, and have therefore developed much capacity in finances and technologies. And that they should now harness joint resources and make a difference in the country. She reported that the Government of Uganda had responded by facilitating dual citizenship for Ugandans, thereby facilitating work and investment in either or both countries.
Hon. Kadaga invited them to market Uganda, to speak for Uganda, to invest in Uganda but more importantly to visit Uganda.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker then proceeded to share information on five areas of opportunities available for the delegates to tap in:
The Tourism Industry, where for example lodges can be set up along the crater lakes of the Rift Valley; or along Lake Nyatoto, the Kazinga channel and the hills of Bunyaruguru. She mentioned the rich and unique history of various kingdoms that could be marketed as well, especially the Karamoja area, where the First Lady has done a good job to bring up the welfare of these people. The Karamoja people have a unique way of life with a rich heritage and she urged delegates to take an interest in the Karamoja area and visit it. Uganda has Lake Victoria, Lake George, Lake Kyoga, Lake Edward and the River Nile and boat cruises and water rafting are still unexploited possibilities. She called on delegates to take interest in the water transport and in leisure boats on all the lakes.
The Rt Hon Speaker shared some statistics about Uganda’s population and housing sector:
(i) The population of Uganda is growing at a rate of 3.2 % which means that the bulk of the population is below 35 years. These are young people, most of them in the lower and middle income group, will need houses
(ii) Currently, Uganda has a deficit of more than 2million housing units just for the urban areas although it is a fact that this population will need schools, quality hospitals and quality recreation facilities
(iii) The oil industry which has recently been discovered will bring new opportunities. Uganda expects to receive more expatriates with their families and their support services. They will need satellite cities in different parts of Uganda, facilities unique to them, opportunities that she would like delegates to explore
( iv) Uganda has become the UN regional office for Africa. This presents opportunities as they require office space, housing and sports and other facilities.
The Rt. Hon Speaker reminded delegates of the opportunities in the oil, gas, mining and energy areas.
Rt. Hon. Speaker informed delegates that Uganda’s unique placement in the area had turned it into a food basket for the region. With a favourable climate and great seasons, there are many opportunities in commercial agriculture and also in food processing.
Hon. Kadaga invited delegates to take interest in the banking industry which is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Ugandan economy.
She informed delegates that Government is constructing the Entebbe-Kampala express highway to minimise inconvenience to travellers on that route. She said the government is expected to construct additional facilities like flyovers within the city and in other towns to ease their movements so that they are not inconvenienced.
She assured them that the aviation industry in Uganda continues to grow. Uganda is serviced by over 14 airlines and plans are under way to attract more airlines through the planned expansion of the airport, as well as improving other facilities needed there.
The local transport industry is another area she identified as growing. In the absence of public government transport, this is an area they could consider, especially for Kampala, Jinja and other towns. She also advised them to consider the rail industry.
Hon. Kadaga singled out industrialisation as the most important sector for them to get interested in. She said that for far too long, Uganda has sent raw materials into the market, but now was important for Uganda to export finished products. She therefore called upon delegates to invest in industries that will not only support agriculture but will also create markets and employment opportunities for the millions of Ugandans who are unemployed.
Hon. Kadaga informed the convention that Uganda has the advantage of a fairly educated population, possibly not very skilled in certain technologies but she was confident that Ugandans are very adaptable. She invited delegates to invest in higher education, polytechnics and vocation schools. She added that if one invested in education in Uganda, they would have an advantage throughout East Africa because many people from Rwanda, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania study in Uganda, still the education destination of choice in the East African community.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker concluded her address by thanking everybody for listening to her. She called upon the ministers present to elaborate on the areas that the delegates wanted to learn about. She ended by reiterating her delight to be at the convention and that all she had shared was for God and her country.