Community, Diaspora and Immigration
Oxfam International CEO Winnie Byanyima wants ministry for Ugandans in Diaspora
Texas, USA. Ms Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, has urged the government to create a special seat in Parliament to represent the interest of Ugandans in the Diaspora. She also wants a ministry created.
The former Mbarara Municipality MP wants the government to consider their representation in the spirit of affirmative action.
Delivering a keynote address at the closure of the 25th Uganda North America Association Convention in Texas, USA, Ms Byanyima said this would help people in the Diaspora to participate in the development process and contribute to policy formulation. “Some smart countries have done this. Isn’t it also time for Uganda to consider appointing a minister for the Diaspora to ensure that this huge resource is contributing across all the sectors of government?” Ms Byanyima said.
Citing the case of some 155 countries around the world that allow their citizens in Diaspora to vote electronically, Ms Byanyima said it is time Ugandans living outside the country are allowed to vote electronically.
Ms Byanyima also called on Ugandans living in the Diaspora to make their skills available for the government to use and urged the government to put in place polices that will attract and enable Diaspora to apply skills acquired back home.
Those in the Diaspora decried the high and prohibitive cost of formal remitting which is close to 12 per cent of the total amount being remitted compared to the global average of 9 per cent.
The high cost has forced many remitters to send their money through informal avenues which experts say is detrimental to the economy.
According to the World Bank, Africa is the most expensive region to send money to. “That is not right,” said Ms Byanyima. “This is almost double the money you have to pay to send money to India.”
Remittances from Ugandans working abroad, locally known as Nkuba kyeyo, have grown by about 14 per cent annually in the past 10 years.
Bank of Uganda and Uganda Investment Authority figures indicate that for the last three years, Ugandans living abroad have been transferring more than $700m (Shs1.7 trillion) annually.