The Annual Uganda Diaspora Homecoming Gala Dinner 2023, held at Serena Hotel in Kampala, wrapped up with resounding success, shedding light on the indispensable role of the Uganda Diaspora community in propelling Uganda’s economic future.
The gala, a gathering of over 10,000 Diaspora members from Japan, Netherlands, France, Canada, USA, led by, the Vice-President of the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA), Mr Charles Muvawala, and a global virtual audience, showcased the diverse talent dispersed among the diaspora members worldwide.
The Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Ambassador Hajj Abbey Walusimbi, expressed optimism, highlighting the gala as proof of the diaspora’s support and its potential to significantly benefit the Ugandan economy.
Hajj Walusimbi emphasized the pivotal role played by Diaspora members, adding that these individuals, excelling in various industries and professions globally, bring invaluable human capital to contribute to both short- and long-term development goals in Uganda.
“The role of the Diaspora in building our nation goes far beyond the substantial remittances sent home. Each one of you, living, working, and flourishing in your respective host countries, are Ambassadors for Uganda. You carry in your hearts the spirit of our nation, and in your actions, you embody our values of resilience, innovation, and communal harmony.”
The Ambassador also affirmed His Excellency President Museveni’s commitment to addressing diaspora concerns and ensuring their well-being as Ugandan citizens.
The event garnered broad support from local and international dignitaries, business leaders, corporations, and entertainers.
Featuring more than 50 exhibitors, including entertainers, the convention became a platform for insightful discussions led by seasoned journalist, Mr. Solomon Serwanjja, Mr. Edrine Mwesigwa, & industry experts.
A notable aspect of the convention was the growing recognition of the diaspora as a valuable asset. Many African countries are opening their doors to this resource, evident through substantial family contributions via regular remittances, surpassing financial assistance from Western and Eastern sources combined.
In 2022, Uganda received $1.3 billion from its Diaspora community, according to the World Bank. This, contributed 4.5% of Uganda’s GDP making Uganda the 8th biggest recipient of remittances in Sub-saharan Africa.
URA Ag. Manager Tax Education, Mr Michael Masembe, reminded the people living in the Diaspora of their tax obligations, and also urged them to embrace the incentives, in a bid to develop Uganda together.
The Commissioner of Immigration Control, Col. Geoffrey Kambere, encouraged the Diaspora community to embrace dual citizenship, & its related advantages, such as living & working freely in 2 countries, owning property in both countries, & easier travel between both countries.
The Senior Programme Assistant at IOM Uganda, Ms Victoria Vanny Nabiteeko, shared about the benefits of migration and the skills transfer program of returning qualified nationals for a period of time that they have created.
Speaking at the dinner, Mr Ronnie Mayanja, the visionary founder of Uganda Diaspora Network, said the purpose of the event is to celebrate Ugandan success stories and inspire people to reach for the skies.
“We should celebrate our people as they are here now. If we have Ugandans who have surpassed their colleagues, my goal is to tell their story and inspire the next generation,” he said.
Luise Karamagi, the Lead, International Money Transfers at Airtel Money Uganda thanked the Diaspora community, informing them that they can now utilize their Uganda Airtel SIM cards to conduct transactions from any part of the world.
“I urge all diasporas not to forget their SIM cards when travelling back. We’ve entered the global realm of remittances. With the SIM card, you can transfer money, purchase insurance for your loved ones, and shop for them wherever you are,” Karamagi noted.
During the closure of the gala, awards were presented to some diasporas, including Dr. Margaret Mutumba, Mike Mukasa, and Keiki Kozuka, among others.
The event was summed up with performances from Maddox Sematimba, Levixone, Hum Kat, among others.
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