The Swedish government has resumed aid support to Uganda and announced $200 million (Shs526b) in “development strategy cooperation” for the next five years.
The package, according to the Swedish minister for International Development Cooperation, Mr Hillevi Engström, will be channelled to projects to improve child and maternal, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, sustainable growth and employment.
“Sweden wants to help create better conditions in Uganda for sustainable economic growth and development,” Mr Engström, was quoted in a statement issued by the Swedish embassy in Uganda. “This is why Swedish aid to Uganda will remain substantial,” it added.
The aid will also be channelled to other areas such as research, innovation and business sector.
The Swedish Finance minister, Mr Anders Borg, during his visit to Uganda, days after the signing of the Anti-homosexuality law early this year, announced that his country would withhold its aid because the law violates human rights. Other countries like the US, Norway and Netherlands enraged by the piece of legislation similarly reacted by pulling the plug on direct aid funding to government projects.
Stung by the withdrawal of aid by partner countries, the government recently also issued statement clarifying on the law saying it was “misunderstood”.
“Its enactment has been misinterpreted as a piece of legislation intended to punish and discriminate against people of a ‘homosexual orientation’, especially by our development partners,” the government said in the statement.
“Uganda reaffirms that no activities of individuals, groups companies or organisations will be affected by the act,” the statement said.
In the latest communication, however, Mr Engström, said his government “continues to support human rights and freedom from violence.” He however, announced that, Sweden’s development cooperation with Uganda following past events “will change.”
The focus, according to the statement, will now be on reducing poverty, reducing infant mortality and improving maternal health and broadening cooperation, especially with civil society and the private sector to ensure than the “prospects of making a difference in meeting the most crucial challenges in Uganda are increased.”
More than 74 Ugandan students have been awarded Master’s Programme scholarships by the Swedish Institute to undertake their studies in different Swedish universities.
The scholarships cover all expenses, including international air passages and a monthly stipend.
Speaking at an Alumni Networking event at his residence on Elizabeth Avenue in Kololo, a Kampala suburb, the Swedish ambassador to Uganda, Urban Anderson, said that the influx of foreign students and researchers from Uganda and elsewhere to Sweden is necessary for his country to keep her levels of excellence.
“Our dependence on trade requires that we work hard to ensure healthy, respectful relations with partners across the globe. At the same time, this fosters the climate of openness to new ideas that will continue to make Sweden an innovative hub and in these efforts we want to partner with Uganda.”