Op-Ed: Three great Summits to put Uganda in the spotlight

By Hudu Hussein

High-profile International meetings are coming to Uganda next month. January 2024 is indeed starting with a lot of international exposure for Uganda. To kick start it is the 27th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) taking place from January 3-6, 2024 at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort. 

Following closely will be the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Heads of Government Summit, NAM, with 120 member states, the second biggest body next to the prestigious United Nations, which has a membership of 193 states.

Established in 1961, at a time when the world was being torn apart between the capitalist Western and socialist/communist Eastern blocs, the NAM is a forum of states that have conscientiously decided to not be formally aligned with or against any major power bloc on the international scene. 

Uganda was chosen last year in Azerbaijan to host the NAM summit from January 15th. We shall also be hosting, in the same month, the South Summit, which in essence began as the coming together of 77 developing countries from the Southern Hemisphere grouped as the G-77 with the main aim of promoting their economic interests as a group. 

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While most Ugandans are ignorant of these conferences, they are of supreme importance for many reasons. Firstly, Uganda is a developing democracy, a young country. To host as many delegates and Heads of State as we shall in January is a vote of confidence in our security systems and hospitality.

Uganda has demonstrated over the years, under the leadership of President Museveni that it is the security powerhouse of the region. Not only have our forces mastered the art of keeping us safe within but also spread their wings of protection to the DRC fighting the ADF, sent peacekeeping forces in Somalia and advocated for peace in Sudan.

The people of Uganda and the security agencies deserve credit for working together to quench terrorist threats and swiftly responding to danger. In January, we shall be required to be even more alert. The citizens must understand that our country will be the focus of attention globally.

All ill-intentioned groups that we have fought and continue to fight in the region and beyond perceive this as an opportunity to strike and spoil our national legacy of utmost peace and security. We the people should also regard this as an opportunity to prove our ability to keep peace and security at a global level and take the duty to cooperate with the security forces even more earnestly. 

When the Non-Aligned Movement was formed in 1961 in the aftermath of the Korean War, the prevailing threat that inspired its birth then was the cold war between the Eastern and Western blocs. Today, the world is even more split than before. BRICS nations advancing their economic might against the NATO nations, the ever-prevailing threat of nuclear war between the US-leaning nations and the Eastern nations like China, Russia and Iran typified in the Israel – Palestine conflict and the Russia – Ukraine war all point to how significant the NAM summit will be.

120 countries are expected to attend the NAM summit and the agenda of global peace cannot be downplayed. At such a critical time when the glue that keeps this world together is becoming weakened by the ongoing wars and conflicts, we have the opportunity to host the non-aligned nations who stand for peace across the board. 

Of equally great significance is the South Summit.

The global economic system favors the mighty and crashes the weak. Developing countries are subjected to currency devaluation, donations with strings attached, and economic policies to their disfavour because they do not have a voice. Developing countries continue to suffer neo-colonial economic imperialism because of their unwillingness to enhance trade among themselves through easing trade barriers and providing alternative markets for their own good. 

This year’s theme for the G – 77 South summit is “leaving no one behind”.

This theme resonates with today’s realities. The world is rapidly developing through technological advancements and discoveries, especially in the West. China and other Asian nations like Japan are dominating the global market with innovations in industry and IT while the developing countries are engulfed in short-term economic goals and useless political insights.

The problem of the developing countries especially here in Africa is not failing to adjust and play by the Western model of democracy; it is failing to realize that we need to support the leaders who have renounced sycophancy and are willing to spearhead the much-needed economic revolution without which the world will hold us hostage as slaves in the new normal. 

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Uganda is among the most beautiful, hospitable and peaceful countries on earth, and it is without a doubt that such conferences will inspire more tourism and attract more investors. It is a sad reality that we have not fully exploited our tourism potential partly because less has been invested in branding the nation as a product of the global tourism market and because of negative elements among us who pride more in our shortfalls than beauty, especially on social media.

It is therefore my appeal to Ugandans that we take full advantage of the tourism potential that these summits bring to showcase the beauty of Uganda on social media and impress the visitors with the good that we have. At the end of the day, we either benefit as a nation or lose out on the great opportunity that we must show the world our culture, our God-given beauty and our hospitality as a people. For God and My country.

Hudu Hussein is a Lawyer and RCC Masaka City 

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