The Yoweri Museveni administration, for good reasons and with sharper focus, took a decision to take part in the Expo 2020, Dubai and the dividends from that involvement are staggeringly pleasing given their metric importance and nuance to Uganda’s economy as it re-emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
As usual the nay-sayers from Uganda’s recessing pessimistic titans, in their quackery, tried to disparage our involvement in that epochal event yet they have only themselves to blame for their ineptitude having been caught flat-footed given the below achievements. The Expo in Dubai, was named by the bureau international des expositions and it began on October 1, 2021 and it will end on March 31, 2022.Themed: “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the expo has had sub-themes as well; Uganda’s pavilion shared the sub- theme of “opportunity” with the UAE and is located in the Opportunity District.
Firstly, from the political point of view, the expo has had that rather qualitative upping of Uganda’s bilateral relations with the UAE and concomitantly the wider Gulf Cooperation Council member countries. President Yoweri Museveni visited here, met Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as well as the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum(who also doubles as Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE), and officiated at the Uganda’s National/Honour Day. The then Speaker of Parliament, late Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanya plus the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Lukia Nakadama, several ministers and members of parliament have also variously attended expo events.
Secondly, regarding the education sector, Uganda scooped 24 scholarships from the government of the Emirate of Sharijah that will go a long way in plateauing the people to people interaction via academic institutions plus navigating into the rather new collaboration at the technical level.
Thirdly, and as indicated in our earlier New Vision columns, Uganda’s missions abroad were tasked to prioritize economic and commercial diplomacy (ECD) in addition to traditional savoir-faire in our respective host countries; consequently the following litany of achievements have been made in the last six months of the Expo: the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development signed a bilateral development assistance agreement with Uganda to enhance the rural electrification project under the ministry of energy; other agreements/MoUs were signed on avoidance of double taxation, protection of investments, agricultural and economic as well as technical cooperation and manpower and labour services exportation; Elite Agro company is destined to set up seven tea processing factories (in Kisoro, Zombo, Buhweju, Kabarore, Rukiga, Bushenyi and Mitooma worth $500m); while Amea Power is to set up renewable power stations in Arua and Moroto worth $300m.
Elsewhere, both Uganda Airlines and Air Arabia flights were launched last year thereby burgeoning both human and cargo transfer from Uganda to the UAE in addition to other carriers already plying the same route. Relatedly, the Dubai liaison office, which will later become a consulate, was inaugurated late last year by, the Special Envoy, Rt. Honourable Ruhakana Rugunda- he was clustered with a couple of ministers, and it is purposed to offer consular services to the ever-burgeoning Ugandan population in the northern emirates as well as protocol support to Uganda government officials transiting through Dubai and UAE officials, nationals and others. It is vitally important as well to note the contribution of the Ugandandiaspora in development; the president while visiting the UAE last year, met them and augmented the embassy’s efforts of mobilizing them; they are currently repatriating over $400m to the pearl of Africa. While GB Lubricants are going to set up a $10m lubricant plant in Namanve Industrial Park, the Global Gases Group based in Dubai is planning to build oxygen and gases plants to supply those badly needed agents by medical facilities.
The volume of trade between the two countries has increased from 30 to 500 metric tonnes since the start of the expo preparations in 2018 and the arrival of Uganda’s carrier, Uganda Airlines fostered that volume of trade further. The two countries are also planning to share vaccine technologies in order to eventually manufacture them locally in Uganda.
The country has also been given a contract to supply 1000 heads of cattle per month for six months and Al Rawabi Dairy Farm is going to establish a $600m dairy farm in Mubende, yet the Streit Group company is setting up a technical facility in Nakasongola to produce highly sophisticated equipment to be used by the government of Uganda and the East African region.
Amb. Henry Mayega
Deputy Head of Mission
Uganda Embassy, Abu Dhabi, UAE