As the Ugandan community in the United Kingdom (UK) prepares to get together for the annual Uganda Convention-UK in September this year, Sebidde Kiryowa speaks to Willy Mutenza, the chairman and founder of the Convention about the expectations, benefits for Uganda, challenges and way forward for the convention that is now in its fourth year.
What is the Uganda-UK Convention?
The primary objective of the Convention was to create a platform for the Ugandans in the Diaspora, the government, various kingdoms, and the private sector to open doors on opportunities, and also to meet, network and build mutually beneficial business relations with each other.
The secondary objective is to harness the tremendous skills and expertise, as well as the financial, socio-political and cultural capital of the Ugandan Diaspora with a view to promote economic and infrastructural development back in Uganda.
The Uganda UK Convention provides the ideal avenue to exchange views and network amongst Ugandans in the Diaspora on matters of common interest and concern to them.
The Convention also helps the Government of Uganda to better understand and appreciate the expectations of the Ugandan Diaspora community and more importantly, acknowledge the key role they play in Uganda’s efforts to acquire its rightful place in the community of nations. It also promotes Uganda and East Africa as a favoured investment destination in Africa.
How and when did the convention come about?
The idea to organise a convention was initiated in 2005 after a few of us in the UK expressed our concerns on the animosity, unpatriotic views and disenchantment that was too often expressed in the Ugandan community in the UK by people who mostly convened to discuss non-development politics.
We thought that something needed to be done to help Ugandans in the Diaspora to be more inclusive in the development of the country rather than being passive politicians.
Following these thoughts, the convention has now become a platform to offer participants – private individuals and business leaders, the opportunity to access vast investment and business opportunities presented on the day by experts from Uganda and abroad.