It was refreshing to hear Head of Diaspora Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Johnny Muhindo, call for togetherness among Ugandan diasporas. The Ambassador acknowledged the positive impact, that diasporas play in the development of Uganda.
He also discussed wider Diaspora issues, including role of the Diaspora Department, formulating a Diaspora policy for a safe, orderly, & development-oriented Diaspora, planned return of qualified Ugandan nationals, pilot project, MOFA/IOM, on transferable skills from the Diaspora, participation in Ugandan elections, proposed annual homecoming summit beginning 2024, proposal for a Diaspora SACCO for investment in Uganda and abroad.
It’s now well established that, diasporas contribute significantly to homeland development both in the form of remittances, and well beyond these crucial inflows. Their contributions are organised across a variety of scales & sectors, providing both financial and in-kind resources to communities & populations in their countries of origin.
More so, these nationals are indispensable in representing their homelands abroad, and in conducting bilateral relationships between host and origin countries.
The Uganda High Commisssion in London, with support from the Government of Uganda, has begun to take key organised steps to engage the Ugandan diaspora, it’s important to note that it does so at a critical time.
On her part, Uganda’s High Commissioner to UK, H.E, Nimisha Madhavani, has commended the diasporas for being patriotic and hailed them for striving to market Uganda’s overseas. She also gave guidance and pledged to support Diaspora initiatives, such as the investment priority areas (bankable projects).
Uganda continues to demonstrate great resolve against the challenges of the global pandemic & regional instabilities. It has already demonstrated political will and interest in engaging with the diaspora, through the establishment of the Department of Diaspora Affairs in 2007, a complement of staff to support services in this unit, several initiatived by Ministries, Departments & Agencies, the appointment of the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Ambassador Abbey Walusimbi, and the recent appointment of Ambassador Johnny Muhindo, who has been a member of the Ugandan diaspora for several years, as the Head of the Department of Diaspora Affairs at Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The mid-term is to be decisive for Uganda to leverage their skills, resources, and shared cultural contexts for mutual exchange, reciprocal benefit, and fostering collective resilience, among others.
What has to be done:
Identify countries, those of Africa & developing world in particular, that have integrated the diaspora in national planning, and that have successfully implemented diaspora engagement programs, review existing Ministry efforts to engage with the diaspora, and ways by which to initiate immediate or short-term improvements to these processes. Identify opportunities to foster trust with the diaspora for long-term engagement programs, determine ways to effectively communicate with the diaspora, and for sharing information and data with the diaspora, develop a proposal for a mapping assessment of the Ugandan diaspora.
Diaspora engagement is critical to every area of governance, and requires a streamlined, well-resourced actor that can coordinate other stakeholders both locally and in the diaspora. Any diaspora coordination unit must also balance diaspora expectations of transparency. Such programs offer the Government of Uganda the opportunity to engage the diaspora, who may wish to assist family members to purchase property or a home and also diasporas looking to invest in wealth and job creation back home.
From the Uganda UK Health Alliance perspective, Moses Mulimira, appreciated the Government of Uganda via the Embassy and Ministry of Health for supporting Diaspora health associations. At the same event, the High Commissioner congratulated Mr. Mulimira, for winning the global health award, and being a positive role model in the Uganda-UK diaspora community, adding that he should be given a national medal.
The event was also attended by Miss Uganda UK 2023/2024 & diaspora members, among others.
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