Mid next month Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda will lead a high-profile delegation to attend the 5thUganda UK Diaspora Convention in London.
At the roundtable event, members of the Diaspora want to share some of their experiences in foreign lands and also to explore ways of how the government of Uganda can help them in various areas of human endeavor.
Some of the areas highlighted include among others the effecting of dual citizenship, incentives as a means of attracting them to invest back home and, the easing of methods of land acquisition.
It is pertinent to note that for about ten years now, the Ugandan Diaspora is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange, repatriating about US$800 million a year. Some of this money is sent to relatives as upkeep, while a huge chunk is set aside for investment, never mind that it is not structured. And, in the process some have lost huge sums to dubious relatives who misuse the remitted funds, thereby affecting the intended life patterns of several people in the ‘dependency chain’, like school-going children and the elderly.
Such discouraging developments notwithstanding however, among the areas the Diaspora have earmarked for investment include infrastructure development, power & energy, health-care, agri-business, real estate and financial markets, all areas that are critical to national development.
For a long time now, the government of Uganda has been incentivising foreign investors with tax holidays, some stretching to ten years.
That in itself has not a bad idea but the government should now muster the courage to try out yet another scheme to benefit those Ugandans abroad who want to invest back home.
In that regard, the choice of Dr Rugunda to lead the Uganda delegation is one that is laced with potent vision; the man is an accomplished listener and diplomat who pays attention to detail.
And since as Prime Minister he is the leader of government business, Ndugu Rugunda should be able to capture the momentous occasion to assuage the fears of our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, with a view of implementing some of their desires to the benefit of both government and other citizens, both at home and in the Diaspora.
Who knows, he can also suggest that a fully-fledged ministry is set up specifically to address development initiatives of the Ugandan Diaspora.