Speech for the 4th Ugandan, UK and Europe Convention 13th September, London by H.H. Nimisha Madhvani, ambassador of Uganda to France, Spain, Portugal And UNESCO, Organisation For Economic Co-Operation And Development (OECD) and bureau of international expositions (BIE)
- His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, Hon. Edward Ssekandi, Chairman of the Uganda UK Convention, Mr. Willy Mutenza, and the Uganda UK Convention Organizers, Congratulations on these excellent arrangements.
- Her Excellency Professor Joyce Kikafunda, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom,His Excellency Zaake Wanume Kibedi, Uganda’s Ambassador to Denmark and the Nordic Countries.
- Lord Dollar Popat, Minister of the Crown and Government Whip, House of Lords, but from Uganda and now our Diaspora Lord!
- Honourable Ministers and State Minister for Lands, Hon. Aidah Nantaba,
- Honourable Members of Parliament,Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Wafula Oguttu, Chairperson of the Ugandan Community in France, Mrs. Sarah Kiwanuka (Please could she stand up for recognition), Distinguished Leaders of Uganda’s Parastatals, represented by Dr. Frank Ssebowa, Executive Director, Uganda Investment Authority.
- Sponsors of the Convention, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
- It is indeed an honour for me as a 3rd Generation Ugandan woman of Asian origin to have been invited to this gathering to share with fellow Diasporas trade, investment and tourism opportunities. However it is an honour and privilege that I have been trusted to represent Uganda in France, Spain, Portugal, UNESCO, OECD and BIE. I thank H.E. the President and the people of Uganda for this trust.
- With the diaspora our theme could now change and be “Uganda on the move by Global Ugandans- Fostering Inclusive Growth”.
Global Ugandans needs to enrich the talent pool in business, science and technology and implement those resources and skills in Uganda.
Global Ugandans should leverage the multi-generational workforce and ;
Harmonize values in a global context
Uganda needs to leap frog to her highest capacities in the globe with all this knowledge, experience and culture. “Next Generation” so to speak.
Uganda must continue taking the lead to pursue the emancipation of women- juggling a career and family life and be remunerated equally to the men in Government as well as incorporate Uganda.
Ugandans in the diaspora and this includes Ugandans, Asians in the UK have more opportunities – I am tempted to say have an imperative to unleash Ugandan’s economic dynamism in Africa and thereby create a win-win for all. Creating the opportunity not only for everyone to make money, but also to erase poverty and enhance development. We need to take advantage of Europe’s economic decline to enhance ours. Uganda can be the bread basket of Africa.
The late Ron Brown – a former US Commerce Secretary, 20 years ago whilst in Uganda said “Africa is the Last Frontier”. President Obama recently quoted the young Ugandan woman he met in August who told him she wanted to start a business in Uganda. She said to President “Time for the Youth of Africa is now”.
However, African opportunities are now and have been for over the past 100 years. I speak from experience as I am a beneficiary and my family who is in Uganda and East Africa over the past 100 years and many of you also share that experience.
Therefore if we look at our people- brothers and sisters of Ugandans in the diaspora- our skills and expertise are now a natural for investing and developing our international relations to Uganda and make money. Many Ugandans are a bit like Gujerati’s. We just know that there is an opportunity and we engage to secure the business proposition and make money. Our advantage is that we know the language and the laws of the land.
UK and Europe is home to about a quarter million Ugandans who are very important to the economies of those countries. Africa’s total population is almost 1 billion. If you compare what China has achieved with 1 billion, surely Africa can with Uganda at the lead.
The areas of opportunities to strengthen the cooperation with African leaders -especially Uganda where President Museveni has the highest regard for the Diaspora – are in agro processing, oil, infrastructure, IT, science and technology and tourism, as well as respecting and restoring our cultural values.
Ugandans in the diaspora must take charge and be instrumental game changers of investment in the Uganda. We won’t need to depend constantly on lenders like World Bank etc. e.g Mo Ibrahim & Celtel, when Mo Ibrahim brought mobile phones to Uganda, nobody thought the mobile phones business would succeed. In 1993 the first mobile was $1000 and now with the boom and mobile money a farmer has a phone at $ 25. This enables farmers to compare the value of their products with urban centres for pricing.
Let me say a word about agriculture and pharmaceuticals and the potential for investment that it presents:
The global demand for coffee is 149.1 million bags at the dollar value of $13.6 billion unprocessed, and $32 billion processed.
The value of tea is $11.4 billion with a total demand of 4 million tons;
The value of milk and milk products is $32.8 billion with the total quantities of 730 million tones.
These are the values of unfinished products. They are examples of the potential and vibrancy of the Ugandan economy even amidst economic challenges and reforms on the local, regional and international scene.
If I may, let me give you one more example: Glaxo-Smith-Kline intends to spend £130 million ($216.4 dollars) to expand research in Sub-Saharan African. This presents a perfect opportunity for Ugandans in the medical and pharmaceuticals to expand with Glaxo-Smith-Kline into Africa.
Therefore, the time is also now for high-level visits to Uganda and East Africa and the world with accompanying senior corporates, delegations of small, medium and large-scale business from both Europe and the UK. In France we must convince the French to look at East Africa as areas of opportunity in business. The EU economy is not growing. But the room for their skills in Uganda and the region is enormous. Even the giant oil company TOTAL think they can dictate to Uganda’s oil Ministry but they had had to compromise. But these big companies have huge technical capacities to work with us. But Uganda must be flexivle for implementation of investments for mutual benefit.
Businesses may take advantage of East Africa’s open capital and current accounts and liberal economies. Uganda is more liberal than many other countries but at the same time Uganda must not allow bureaucratic blockage towards rapid development.
The continent of Africa is only 10% developed. Development agencies should expedite loan processing to countries for development in line with IMF terms of borrowing and be competitive to China at 1.5% for 30 years with a 5 year moratorium for LDC.
But before I close Your Excellency, Hon. Edward Ssekandi, I would like to appeal on behalf of my colleague Excellency Ambassadors to the Cabinet and Parliament to seriously look at effectively funding the Foreign Missions of Uganda as we are the first face of the country wherever it is that you are going.
Missions have been neglected yet it is our Missions that assist in putting together such Conventions to promote Uganda and bring in funds to the economy.
The Ugandans in the diaspora have pleaded to all visiting officials in various Missions abroad but has fallen on deaf ears.
There is no better time than now for the diaspora with the leadership of the Chairman of the Ugandans in the Diaspora in USA, UK, Europe to fast track the relationship between USA, UK, Europe and Uganda. This would further strengthen North-South cooperation, along with South-South Co-operation which has gathered enormous momentum in investment terms. Money has no geographical barriers. We have had a long day congratulations to every one thank you and let’s do the next convention in Paris.
For God and My Country