TORONTO – The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has tasked the foreign affairs ministers of Africa take interest in the challenges faced by their people in securing visas to other countries with an aim of easing restrictions.
Kadaga notes that the time lag of receiving a visa to other countries, most times of which are given out of the country of the passport’s origin, have proved a barrier and have many a time limited the movement of people.
“When the Schengen arrangement started in 1995, a visa of Germany could take you anywhere in Europe, but now almost each country wants the processing of their own visas and it seems our foreign affairs office is not aware about this,” says Kadaga.
She notes that the best course of action by the foreign affairs office to check on this challenge faced by citizens is to set up a reciprocal arrangement which would go a long way in easing access to visas by Ugandans.
“Uganda processes visas at the port of entry whereby persons getting into the country can get a visa on arrival at Entebbe Airport. We need to set up such arrangements with other major countries which our people travel to so as to ease their access to visas,” adds Kadaga.
The Speaker made the call while addressing Ugandans living in Canada at the 3rd Uganda Canadian Diaspora Business Expo and Convention in Toronto, Canada.
The expo is premised on the theme, “Building Uganda and Networking Diaspora Initiatives”, which runs from 29th June to 1st July 1 2019.
The Speaker assured the audience that plans were on course to facilitate Ugandans living in the diaspora to be able to renew their passports as well as acquire Uganda national identification cards and certificates of dual citizenship.
“We agreed in 2018 that for a start, Government would facilitate six centres around the world which can give services to Ugandans in the diaspora. We have a Middle East office in Abu Dhabi, a UK office in London, a US office in Washington, a SADC office in Pretoria and the Canada office will be in Ottawa,” Kadaga noted.
Key talking points at the convention include among others Uganda’s tourism potential for which the diaspora residents have been called on to invest in owing to the fact that religious tourism is taking root in the country.
“It’s a very big thing that Uganda has the martyrs that is why we have been visited by three Popes. On Martyrs Day, Namugongo had up to five million people. This is an opportunity that Ugandans in the diaspora can tap into and invest in things like hotel facilities,” said the Speaker.
The chairperson of the Uganda Canadian Diaspora Business Expo and Convention, John Nalima, noted that the convention aims at linking Ugandans living in Canadian to sector players who can facilitate investment back home as well as give Ugandans an opportunity to live in Canada.
The three-day convention has also been graced by the Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Members of Parliament, the Uganda High Commissioner to Canada, Joy Ruth Acheng and the Uganda Hotel Owners Association chairperson, Susan Muhwezi among others.
Ninsiima Julian contributed to this story