Community, Diaspora and Immigration

1st Ugandan UK Convention 2011 – An overwhelming success

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The First Ugandan Convention in the UK was held in London with an array of distinguished speakers before a large and enthusiastic audience of its country’s friends. This milestone event was convened to “Harness the Potential of Ugandan Diasporas” for those considering a return to their homeland.  Ugandan returnees have always brought back with them valuable skills, experience and contacts, benefiting themselves and making a substantial contribution to their country’s economy.    The Convention highlighted the growing opportunities for Uganda’s sons and daughters encouraging them to return to the land of their birth.

Welcoming remarks were made by the High Commissioner Rwabyomere after the organiser Willy Mutenza opened the proceedings.   The High Commissioner then introduced the Hon. Oryem Okello, the Minister for International Affairs who

outlined measures taken by the Ugandan Government to engage its diaspora and offer places in their country’s business community.  The Guest of Honour and Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament the Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga spoke earnestly about the country’s present and future prospects in modern Africa.

The Convention then got down to details of investment opportunities for returnees and how to find support and help needed for their return journey to Uganda.   The key note speech was given by the Hon. Maria Kiwanuka, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.  She described business opportunities ranging from fish farming to telecommunications available to returnees; she also announced a government scheme providing funding for entrepreneurs to create feasibility studies for their project.    The second Minister to speak was the Hon. Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and

Minerals who told us about Uganda’s rich natural resources awaiting development.  The President of Tullow Oil in Uganda, Mr. Elly Karuhanga was next to speak, describing the emerging opportunities in recent oil and gas strikes and how this will boost the economy of the country.

The Ministers and other dignitary’s speeches drew to a close and it was then the turn of the people of business.  First came the financiers; Major General Benon Biraaro, founder of Lift Uganda who mobilises and uses local capital and investment to transform the country’s commerce and the bankers were next as Farouk Kiwola of the Bank of Africa’s business development department offered banking services to Diasporas.  The session was wound up by Lord Sheikh in resounding fashion, providing inspiration to all Diasporas.

Lastly, international trade aspects were represented by among others Peter Matthews gave the briefest of outlines of grant support for Africa’s business sector from the European Commission plus huge business opportunities from the United Nations procurement programmes.  The whole event brought together buyers and sellers from a global community and proved an inspiration to all those who love Uganda.      

Peter Matthews
Director the Foreign Direct Investment EEIG            

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