Parliament Speaker Jacob Oulanyah has proposed action that is deliberately aimed at ensuring that the government meaningfully supports the Ugandan diaspora.
There should be a mechanism by which the diaspora is incorporated into the government structure, for streamlined financial support, he said.
Oulanyah made the remarks on Friday as the guest of honor at the opening of the Uganda UAE Expo Convention 2021 at the Arjaan Rotana Hotel in Dubai Media City.
Under the theme “Connecting Minds and Seizing Opportunities to Create the Future”, the exhibition is part of the ongoing Dubai Exhibition and brought together Ugandans living in Dubai, government officials and other stakeholders.
Alluding to the theme, the President borrowed a quote from Leonard Ravenhill, saying, “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity.”
He said the opportunities keep changing and therefore each individual should harness the networks, people and discussions such as the annual conventions, to their benefit and that of Uganda as a country.
Oulanyah stressed the need for a support system – in terms of policy, funding, laws and institutions – to the country that can facilitate the individual aspirations of the Ugandan diaspora.
“Is there a system in Uganda that can hold your hand when you leave Uganda looking for opportunities. To accompany you, take care of you and guide you. Is it here? ”Ulanyah wondered, during his speech.
He highlighted the impact of the diaspora on the Ugandan economy, citing the remittances sent each year, saying it is important to create a synergy through which the government supports the activities of the diaspora.
“The structures within central government and local government are clear. In the case of the diaspora, you have conventions on trade, investment, business, and culture. How does the government structure finance these kinds of activities? “
To add; “We have the North American Association of Uganda (UNAA) and every year Uganda gives what? $ 50,000? That’s it. I don’t know how much is given for the Dubai convention. Maybe $ 20,000? But that takes place through an informal arrangement. Can we formalize this? Can we deliberate on how we treat our people in the diaspora? “
Speaking at the same event, Ugandan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Zaake Wanume Kibedi also noted that the Ugandan mission to the United Arab Emirates had mobilized the Ugandans there to get involved in the development of their country. The Uganda-UAE annual conventions are part of this mobilization.
Beyond Ugandans’ investments there, the UAE has been a key trading partner with Uganda over the years, with that trade valued at $ 1.85 billion per year. The UAE is Uganda’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and Gulf region.
In his presentation on the role of Parliament in facilitating the participation of the diaspora in national development, the President explained how the three pillars of the state – Parliament, Executive and Judiciary – serve Ugandans, including those living in outside Uganda.
“Parliament and the Executive are concerned with laws, policies and budgets. The laws they deal with are meant to deal with all Ugandan citizens, whether inside Uganda or outside Uganda. You (the Diaspora) are supposed to know about these laws and policies. How they affect you, how they make you easier, ”he told Expo attendees.
To the business community, Oulanyah called on them to use alternative dispute resolution processes such as litigation, arbitration, conciliation and settlement, to avoid the lengthy court proceedings that often plague businesses.
He challenged the Ugandan diaspora in Dubai to reflect on why they left Uganda, the opportunities that present themselves at home and the networks they have individually created in Dubai and whether they are better in Dubai than home and what they have done for Uganda.
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