The recently concluded second edition of the Canada NRM Chapter Symposium, which attracted a number of Ugandans in Canada, potential investors, government officials, private sector, and well-wishers, has been hailed as a resounding success, with President Kaguta Museveni emphasizing the need to increase local investment and foster value addition for Ugandan products.
Addressing attendees of the two-day symposium, the president said government was ready to help Ugandans and Canadians who wish to invest in value addition.
“The investors who are willing to add value to our products are welcome to Uganda,” he stated.
He also took the audience through a process that has seen the government transiting from a small economy, to a more progressive status, with reasonable exports that earn the country huge foreign exchanges.
He said by 1962, Uganda was basically surviving on cotton, coffee, copper , tobacco, tea and tourism but by the time NRM took power in 1986, the past regimes had failed to sustain the trend.
Museveni added that NRM has since prioritized the recovery and expansion process of the economy, with even new products that were not formerly considered to be of any economic value, now, largely contributing to the country’s economy.
Drawing an example of maize that was formerly grown as a food crop with about 500,000 kgs produced annually, and importing maize floor from neighbouring Kenya, he added that Uganda now has five billion kilograms exported annually, and maize has since turned into both a food and cash crop.
Museveni also noted that Uganda was now the leading producer of milk on the African continent among many others.
He reiterated the need by government to priotize value addition, to the whole spectrum of the existing raw materials in Uganda.
He said interested Canadian investors can also invest in other service sectors like tourism, hotels and ICT, among others.
In addition, the President emphasized that NRM government efforts had yielded results, with now, 61% of the population living under the money economy and only 39% still working for only their stomachs.
At the same event, the leader of Uganda’s delegation, the third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister without Portfolio, Rukia Isanga Nakadama, said the Ugandan emigrants were formerly looked down upon as desperate casual workers (nkuba-kyeyo), but noted the NRM government holds them in high regard, due to their contributions to poverty eradication in Uganda.
She commended them for contributing to the national development through Foreign Direct Investments, remittances, promotion of trade, public diplomacy and skills transfer, among others.
Nakadama added that she will continue encouraging Ugandans abroad to embrace dialogue and unity, in order to build a robust diaspora community that can continuously contribute toward Uganda’s economy.
She reminded her audience that NRM was the only political organisation, that can be trusted with the sacred responsibility of securing Uganda’s future.
In his remarks to the media, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, who doubles as the NRM Diaspora League Chairperson, Ambassador Abbey Walusimbi, said his office would continue coordinating Ugandans outside their country to invest back home.
The Ambassador stressed the need for a diaspora resource pool, where diasporas can gather money and skills to invest back home, in a bid to create employment opportunities for Ugandans, both within Uganda and abroad, to drive economic growth and empower the local workforce.
He also highlighted the need for improved policies in diaspora banking, ensuring easier access to financial services for Ugandans living overseas, thus fostering economic stability and investment.
Walusimbi also suggested the creation of a comprehensive database of skilled individuals in the diaspora. This, would enable the government to tap into their expertise and contribute to critical sectors such as oil and gas, science and technology, and healthcare, among others.
The NRM Diaspora League Chairperson commended the president for delivering the first ever virtual address to the Ugandan diaspora community, and offering land for a diaspora Industrial park in Uganda.
Uganda’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador Joy Ruth Acheng, said the symposium discussed exchange programs, especially in the field of education, that will support education and skills development among Ugandan students and professionals in Canada, fostering knowledge transfer and capacity building.
Officials from relevant authorities showed the significance of streamlining processes of passport renewal, national IDs and birth registration for Ugandans abroad, facilitating smoother processes and ensuring their rights and recognition as citizens.
On behalf of the diaspora community, the chairperson of the Canada NRM Chapter, Fred Kinene, commended the president for the support toward the symposium.
Kinene said this, was the second annual event and requested the Head of State to consider visiting them in Canada.
The closing ceremony was also attended by the Presidency Minister, Milly Babalanda, Deputy Head of Mission in Canada, Allan Kajik, NRM Deputy National Treasurer, Jacqueline Kyatuhairwe, Senior Presidential Advisor Florence Mutyabule, among others.