NRM MANIFESTO WEEK | Henry Okello Oryem, State Minister for International Cooperation, presented the progress on the manifesto commitments noting that the Ministry implements a foreign policy that promotes peaceful and friendly relations with all countries, especially with our neighbours, on the basis of respect for each other and mutual benefits.
He said, the Ministry continues to pursue a policy of commercial and economic diplomacy to promote tourism, trade and investments towards social economic transformation of the country.
“Our Ministry is championing Uganda’s constructive contribution to regional and international Economic development, peace and security, particularly through the regional and international frameworks,” said Okello.
To highlight the excellent regional cooperation, minister Okello gave the example of Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi among others. “Uganda enjoys peaceful co-existence with neighbours like Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda still enjoys warm relationship with Rwanda in spite the closure of the border in Katuna. The president of Rwanda will be among the presidents attending the swearing in ceremony of Yoweri Museveni for the 6th elective term in office,” Oryem said, adding that: “President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo is also among those who have confirmed coming to attend the swearing in ceremony.”
Uganda continued to support the peace mission in Somalia and continues to maintain the largest number of peace keepers in Somalia. This is aimed at boosting regional peace and stability.
He also noted Uganda has also worked tirelessly to support peace efforts in South Sudan. On several occasions the president of Uganda has continued to meet and mediate the different stakeholders in the quest for total peace in South Sudan.
He said the insecurity in DRC presents a security threat to Uganda as it could spill over to the country. Uganda also continues to host the UN Regional Centre in Entebbe to support its missions in DRC. This centre has helped create jobs for Ugandans and established business opportunities for Uganda. “The presence of this centre has given Uganda a positive image,” says Okello.
On the stepping up promotion of tourist sites to attract more tourists to Uganda, as part of the Ministry’s economic and commercial diplomacy in order to earn more from the tourism sector. Accordingly tourism revenues have grown from USD$1.37bn in 2016 to USD$1.453bn in 2017 and reached USD$ 1.6bn in 2018. The Ministry through its Missions Abroad continues to participate in the following major exhibitions to showcase tourism products: China International Tourism Industry Expo (CITIE) , Annual World Travel Market in London UK, ITB Berlin and Indaba-South Africa among others.
The ministry mobilized investors to do business in Uganda. He listed a number of foreign companies that have set up shop in Uganda courtesy of efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also noted that the Foreign Affairs has been able to support the business destinations of Uganda Airlines.
The ministry also supported exchange visits where students of Uganda go to countries like Israel to learn about modern techniques in agriculture.
In order to protect Ugandans trading in South Sudan, Okello said Uganda government has engaged the government of South Sudan to reign in the armed bandits that have been attacking Ugandan traders there.
To boost trade in the region, Uganda is working DRC government construct roads that will help in exporting goods to that country.
“Not every one can export to Europe or the USA so we are also taking advantage of the regional markets. So that’s the strategy and there is no need for hullabaloo about this,” Okello said.
Uganda is also seeking alternative markets out the region so that dairy products, poultry are exported to foreign countries. This comes with a condition of fulfilling the quality standards.
He also noted that the ministry continues to support investments in the oil and gas sector as witnessed in the recent signing of the East African Community Oil Pipeline with the president of Tanzania.
For purposes of foreign policy coordination, the ministry of foreign affairs continued to support the EAC integration and federation processes.
Challenges that affected the implementation of this manifesto included trade protectionism practiced by some of the neighbouring countries, insecurity in some neighbor countries and the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic which has slowed down business and investments.
However, in spite of the challenges, Oryem noted that his ministry achieved 90% of its manifesto targets.