KAMPALA — Officials from the Office of the President in the Directorate of Foreign Affairs have initiated the much sought-after talks with a team from social media giant —Facebook recently turned Meta aimed at enhancing revenue sharing and taxation collection.
Mr. Isaac Kigozi, the Head of Trade and Investment in President’s Office/ Diaspora Affairs represented Uganda while Julie Wenah the Associate General Counsel, Facebook Global represented the social media giant.
This was at the sidelines of the 2nd Annual Africon Conference, a 3-day event that brings together pop culture, music, food, innovation, activism, education from the global Black Diaspora.
The event which unites global black diasporas coincides with Africa Day, aims to celebrate the diversity of the African Continent and the Diaspora through the lens of entertainment, media, technology and leadership.
“We have had a fruitful meeting with the Associate General Counsel, Facebook Global; the meeting was aimed at sparking off discussions that would enhance the setting up mechanism to ensure revenue sharing and tax collection,” Kigozi said.
Ugandan authorities banned Facebook after President Museveni accused the social media giant of being arrogant.
He criticized Facebook for being against the government to the extent of closing some of its accounts and said Facebook has no right to say who is good and who is bad in Uganda
“Facebook decided to block NRM message centers,” Museveni said in his speech, referring to the ruling National Resistance Movement.
“Why would anyone do that? I told my people to close it. If it is to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably.”
Facebook/Meta, working with local partners, has recently completed a 770 kilometer fiber build in northwest Uganda to provide more than 3 million Ugandans with connectivity infrastructure.
The social network says that this could also lead to cross-border connectivity to neighboring countries.
The social network operates its Free Basics program in 26 African countries including the continent’s two major economies, Nigeria and South Africa.
Free Basics offers a skeleton of popular internet services to users in less economically developed countries.
Facebook/Meta owns social media platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, among others.
Meanwhile, the Ugandan official also held a meeting with Ukonwa Ojo the Global Chief Marketing Officer, Amazon Prime Video & Amazon Studios as well as TJ Adeshola the Head of Global Content Partnerships at Twitter.
The conference that took place in Los Angeles California attracted blacks across the globe and saw a number of prominent speakers and entertainers featuring at the event.
Kigozi was among the panel discussants with Travis Adkins, President and Chief Executive Officer U.S African Development Foundation and Temwa Gondwe, senior Manager, Intra-African Trade Initiative at AFREXIMBANK.
The event as well saw other diaspora power brands in attendance such as; Ava Hall- Former Head, BET International, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde- Actress, Director, Speaker, Singer, Founder of Oyep, Abdul Abdullah- Founder & CEO of Culture Management Group and Afrochella Festival and Deniece Laurent-Mantey, Foreign Affairs Officer U.S. Department of State.
Others speakers included; Tunde Ogundipe- SVP & GM of African Music Strategy & Culture, Sony, Elon Johnson- Senior Creative, Caroline Wanga- CEO Essence, Kanayo Awani- Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative in Afreximbank among others.
Through a statement, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora, Amb. Abbey Walusimbi extended an invitation from HE President Museveni that he is ready to host them for a dinner and summit to discuss the future of a united African Diaspora.
The Ambassador noted that President Museveni has opened up the country to allow all historical diasporas to take up investment as well as settle in Uganda.
“On behalf of our President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency, Yoweri Museveni I welcome you all and seek that we enjoy responsibly and network around what we can do together especially for our children. Africa is now the future of the world. We are the food basket of the world. We are the source of all minerals in the world, and all industries survive because of Africa,” Amb. Walusimbi noted in a speech.
Amb. Walusimbi added that, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I trust that you know that, Africa must become great again. To achieve this, we must do it collectively by finding a problem to solve back in Africa. As you know, everything was destroyed when colonialists arrived and ruled Africa. We lost our formulas to them including artifacts and our documented history about our great specialization.”
The Ambassador stretched the need for all historical diasporas to participate and be part of a united Africa that is economically, socially and politically empowered.
“As you are there in the diaspora, kindly come back home with the 21st century skills and opportunity so that we rebuild the foundation of Africa, your motherland. We are created special, talented and we don’t give up. Our resilience is unmatched and we are the original people created by God,” Amb. Walusimbi said.