By Raymond Baguma
The Government plans to establish a system to sell bonds and attract finance from Ugandans living and working abroad to enable them invest in the country.
The permanent secretary of the foreign affairs ministry, Ambassador James Mugume, said the ministry had negotiated for a grant from the United Nations Development Programme to enable Bank of Uganda carry out a study.
He said the study would establish an international bond to attract diaspora finance.
Mugume said the grant would also support the Uganda Investment Authority to carry out a study to identify key areas in which Ugandans living and working abroad can invest back home.
He made the remarks in a speech read by Bati Kawooya, the head of the Diaspora Service Division in the foreign affairs ministry on Wednesday during the fifth diaspora investment summit.
The two-day event, that was organised by Uganda Investment Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Private Sector, took place at Hotel Africana.
It was held under the theme, “My Home, My Investment.”
The summit aims at encouraging Ugandans in the diaspora to actively participate in private investment in their home country.
Mugume said the special Diaspora Affairs department was set up in the foreign affairs ministry to serve the interests of Ugandans living abroad.
He added that the department had made a difference in the relationship between Ugandans abroad and the Government.
Mugume explained that last year, financial remittances to Uganda by nationals working abroad amounted to $768m, which was higher than donor commitments and exports recorded for 2010.
He said the Government has a goal of encouraging Ugandan experts abroad with technical skills to return to the country on short-term basis as consultants.
Mugume said this would build local capacity instead of hiring foreign experts.
State minister for foreign affairs Asuman Kiyingi encouraged Ugandans living and working aboard to return periodically and witness the development in the country.
He cited sectors with potential for investment as infrastructure, energy, education and ICT.
Kiyingi said the diaspora was better positioned because of the skills and work ethics acquired from working abroad.
During the summit, the Ugandans requested for operationalisation of dual citizenship. They said since the law was amended, it had not been operationalised.
The Ugandans also requested for the opportunity of voting in elections.
They said referring to them as ‘Nkuba kyeyo,’ was demeaning and reduces them to people who do menial jobs, yet many of them are lawyers, doctors and accountants.