In his opening remarks, the Chairman/Founder, Uganda Convention UK, Willy Mutenza said that it was with great pleasure once again, that he welcomed them to the seventh Uganda Convention UK. The theme for the year was “Partnering for Wealth Creation” and it fitted well with the Convention’s primary objective of promoting investment to Uganda.
He further said that they believed that it was the duty of the Ugandans in the diaspora, to control the narrative and promote Uganda as the Land of opportunity and also to expand the role of the Ugandan Diaspora from family remitters to financial and social investors by exposing them to opportunities by the various partners.
He welcomed the new Uganda High Commissioner H.E Amb. Julius Peter Moto who was attending the Convention for the first time.
He reminded delegates that at the 2016 Convention Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga appealed to the Ugandan Diaspora professionals to return to Uganda. He introduced Dr. Nandawula Kanyerezi Mutema, a Ugandan Physician, as one of the speakers who was to share her journey and challenges of doing business in Uganda. She returned to Uganda 2015 and with her partner had setup one of the modern clinics in the country.
In support of Hon. Kadaga’ appeal, Willy also encouraged Ugandans in the UK to take advantage of the opportunities in the service industry and repatriate their skills back home and contribute towards quality service delivery as a way of averting brain drain. He also noted that at last year’s Convention Lord Popat mentioned that as a Trade Envoy he encourages bilateral trade and investment. He was therefore happy that this year the UK doubled UK Export Finance cover to Uganda from £300m to £600m and as a result UK companies had started winning contracts in Uganda like the construction of Kabaale International Airport, being won by UK companies.
Mutenza further noted that over the last 7 years the Convention with their partners had substantially improved the lives of disadvantaged people in Uganda mainly in Agriculture and education sector. Among which they had donated a commercial Laser printer and a commercial Lisographer Printer to St. Andrew’s Matale Hill Primary School in Kalisizo as part of an investment for the school to be able to provide breakfast for the students, donated wheel chairs to disabled solders of the UPDF, school tools to Kamuli district, pay school fees for disadvantaged students just to mention a few.
This year the Ugandan Convention funded Olive Namutebi, ED, Albinism Umbrella to attend the Convention and also to mobilise support from Ugandans in the Diaspora, friends of Uganda and NGOs to help the foundation to create awareness and fight problems such as bullying, prejudice and even violence because of the stereotypes based on the colour of their skin.
A few years ago the Convention mobilised funding for two tractors and construction of Nyakika primary school which were supervised by the Convention just to mention but a few.
Willy commended Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga for supporting Diaspora rights and ensuring that Diaspora would be able to apply for dual citizenship at their missions in their host country.
Excitedly, Willy acknowledged the presence of one of the people that inspired them 10 years ago to embark on the journey of promoting Uganda, Dr. Maggie Kigozi. Dr. Maggie, a seasoned business woman and one of the most successful women in business in Uganda, moderated a session on Agribusiness which discussed Uganda’s Agriculture Potential – Policies, Incentives, Trade Facilitation and Agri-infrastructure Investment Opportunities and of course how to access for finance to fiancé agro-based projects.
He said further that The Uganda Convention had continuously enjoyed a lot of support from successful Ugandan Asians and this year Shahid Sheikh OBE, MD Clifton Packaging Group attended. Shahid gave an overview of the impact of formalisation of food products in Uganda – a move to brand and better package items hence the vision of Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BABA), a brain-child of his late brother Khalid Sheikh.
A roundtable session on Agribusiness debated on Uganda’s Agriculture Potential – Policies, Incentives, Trade Facilitation and Agri-infrastructure Investment Opportunities.
With the rising potential in the infrastructure investment in Africa, Hon. Isaac Musumba Minister of State for Urban Development gave the audience an overview of where to invest money.
Ian Clarke, a Ugandan Irish Doctor, the Chairman, International Medical Group, built one of the modern hospitals in Uganda, gave a personal overview on what challenges faced multinationals in managing their subsidiaries in Uganda, his journey as a Ugandan investor and the opportunities in various sectors.
Eric Olanya, Head of Trade, Uganda, Department for International Trade, shared challenges, risks and the services which could be offered to UK exports and also what was expected from the department.
Finally, he acknowledged the sponsors and exhibitors without whom the event could not be what it was. He welcomed every one for coming, and making the Convention the great experience that it had become.
“It is all about you, for you and by you, and it would not be what it is without you”, said Willy Mutenza
He wished the successful and fruitful deliberations.
“For God and My country – Uganda”, he said