Plan to woo diaspora investors hits rock

Vice President Edward Ssekandi (2nd L) joins former UIA executive director Maggie Kigozi (2nd R) and members of the Ugandan North American Association during the Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala in Kampala last year. FILE PHOTO

Kampala- Government’s strategy to interest Ugandans working and living abroad to invest in their country through diaspora bond has hit a snag.

The system, which already succeeded in Ethiopia, once in place, was meant to help Uganda cut on donor funds.
However, according to a two-year feasibility study by Bank of Uganda (BoU), the institution which was supposed to issue the bonds, there was a low level of awareness about this instrument.

Speaking during a dialogue on diaspora resource mobilisation and utilisation early in the week, BoU assistant director financial markets Arnold Bagubwagye said: “It may not be feasible to issue a diaspora bond independently, as there were concerns from the study about the lack of a critical mass to fully subscribe to the bond (hence the awareness drive).”

The dialogue was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the theme: ‘Harnessing Diaspora participation and contribution to Uganda’s transformational agenda.’
Uganda Investments Authority executive director Frank Ssebowa said: “Uganda’s economic and social transformation process is shifting towards a knowledge-based society. We are looking to our Ugandan diaspora actively engage in technology skills and best practices transfer from their host countries.”
Mr Ssebowa said if the money remitted back into the country is invested in viable projects, it will create jobs for Ugandans who will in turn earn a steady income.

He mentioned some of the projects Ugandans in the diaspora could invest in such as tourism, oil and gas, among others.

In their response, Ugandans in the diaspora expressed disappointment about the slow process of registering businesses which they said is making life difficult for those who want to invest back home.

Mr Ronnie Mayanja, a member of the Ugandan North American Association, the largest formal association of Ugandans in the diaspora, said: “Many of us want to come and invest but we were left out during the feasibility study instead a consultant was hired to do the job.”

Mr Mayanja challenged government officials to revisit the dual citizenship law which still has loopholes mentioning the issue of many Ugandans who would want to move back with their families to invest but are hindered by the clause in the law which does not allow children below 18 years.

Talking about the dual citizenship law, out-going Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs James Mugume said: “Many of these challenges mentioned, especially allowing Ugandans to have dual citizenship, have to be amended by the law through Parliament which is unfortunately is a long process.”


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