The Lord Sheikh hosted a delegation of Members of Parliament from Uganda led by Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, the Commissioner Parliament of Uganda who represented the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda: Rt Hon Dr Rebecca A. Kadaga. The delegation had previously attended the 6th UK Trade and Investment Convention and was composed of the following Members and Staff of Parliament;
- Cecilia Ogwal Commissioner, Parliament of Uganda
- Byarugaba Alex Chairperson Committee on Natural Resources
- Najjuma Sarah Committee on Gender, Labour & Social Development.
- Nantume Egunyu Committee on Local Government Accounts
- Baryayanga Aja Andrew Committee on Natural Resources
- Bigira Norah Committee on Natural Resources
- Okello Anthony, Vice Chairperson Finance Committee
- Nabasumba Agnes Amooti, Senior Public Affairs Officer & Diaspora Desk Coordinator
- Jackie B. Guma, Legal Counsel on Diaspora issues
- Kyaligonza Moses, Data Analyst in Leader of Opposition Office
- Willy Mutenza the Chairman of the UK Trade and Investment Convention
The Lord Sheikh was joined by other Members from the House of Lords including Lord Popat, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda; Ms. Pauline Latham OBE MP for Mid Derbyshire; Sir William Cash, Chairman African Parliamentary Group among others.
The Lord Sheikh was very delighted to host a team from Uganda where he considered it to be his second home since he was born in Uganda and lived there until when he was chased by the then President Idd Amin. He expressed appreciation to the current government that had worked hard to ensure peace and stability of the Country as well as her neighbours. He appreciated Mr. Willy Mutenza for the great work he is doing in the United Kingdom of connecting the leadership of the two Countries. He expressed the fact that Britain was ready and willing to refurbish the trade relations it had with the African Continent, of which Uganda was part of.
In the meeting the following issues, milestones, action points and recommendations were discussed.
Main Issues / Concerns for Britain
- The difficulty of acquiring United Kingdom Visa The Lord Popat asked the delegation to write to him officially and raise the concern. He promised to follow up the matter with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- The possibility of International firms and companies like Marks and Spencer, H&M, Primark to go to Uganda so that Ugandans benefited from them; In response the MPs from Britain appreciated the concern but categorically stated that Uganda had to create a favourable investment environment for such firms to thrive in the Country.
- Why Brexit, what benefits were available to Uganda as an investment destination; Members from Britain informed their counterparts that the break way was the better solution for Britain since it gave her independence and the ability to make her own decisions unlike when she was still under EU i.e. Britain would be at liberty to do business with whomever she choose unlike before where collective responsibility was required and that one of the prospects for Britain was reviving its relations with Africa at her own terms and conditions.
Main Issues / Concerns for Government of Uganda
- Ease of doing business; the concern was that there were many procedures and processes involved in making investments in Uganda which slowed and discouraged would be investors.
- Bureaucracy; slowness in decision making process by the responsible authorities which frustrated would be investors.
- Corruption; this vice could not be tolerated by the British people who wanted transparency at every stage.
- Child Marriages was mentioned as one of the existing challenges existing in Uganda and it was suggested that since it was an aspect of Culture and traditional society belief, there was need to sensitize the Public of the challenges of allowing their children to marry young and if possible change the situation by legislation.
- Pauline Lanthan raised concerns about the issues in Buyikwe Hospital such as doctors working without being paid. However, Hon. Cecila Ogwal assured her that such challenges were currently being handled pragmatically by the Government as well as other parties because they over spilled further into other sectors like education where teachers were not being paid in time “these are close party services” she affirmed.
- Pauline wondered: “For example how the government could provide universal education without providing basic necessities for a learning environment?”
During the general discussions, Lord Sheikh inquired if Female Genital Mutilation was still a problem in Uganda since it was still a problem in her neighbour South Sudan. Hon. Cecilia informed the meeting that government had worked hard in eliminating the vice and that although it was still traced in Sebei district it wasn’t as much as before since the women were sensitized about emancipation.
Lord Sheikh appreciated the government for its efforts in emancipating the women in Uganda to the extent that each district is represented by a Woman in Parliament.
Hon. Cecilia noted that whereas it was true that Uganda had achieved much in emancipating women, there was need for the political parties in Uganda to avail opportunities for women to head political parties as a way of easing the possibility of them standing a chance of taking the top job for the Country.
Lord Popat noted the fact that one of the achievements he had attained in his capacity as the Prime Minister’s Trade envoy to Uganda and Rwanda was soliciting for support to Rwandair which Britain sponsored greatly and now it had direct flights to Britain.
He emphasized the fact that Uganda should also take up the opportunity of increased funding of the British government to trade in Africa so as to revive Uganda Airlines.
Joint Way forward
- On investment, it was noted that there was need for closer ties and relations between the two Parliaments. To achieve this desire of building close ties Sir William the Chairman of African Parliament Group (APG) informed the Members from Uganda that they could arrange for meetings through the British Embassy in Uganda, they should also use the avenue of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as well as Inter Parliamentary Union
- Uganda to use the opportunity of the available trade opportunities to revive Uganda airline.
- Establish a Joint Parliamentary group composed of both Parliaments through the Lord Sheikh for future discussions.
- Sir William and Hon. Cecilia expressed the need for a delegation of Members of Parliament from both Parliaments to visit each other’s Parliament.
- Uganda to reduce her bureaucracies involved in doing business.
The Members from House of Lords emphasized the presence of enormous investment and business opportunities in Africa that needed to be exploited and noted that Brexit would facilitate them to exploit such opportunities.
Both sides appreciated the Lord Sheikh for organising the meeting which was very timely. It was hence agreed that as a means of achieving what was discussed, a Joint Parliamentary group should be established as a means of facilitating future discussions. It was also agreed that there should be exchange visits as soon as possible through the British High Commission in Uganda.