KAMPALA – State Minister of Foreign Affairs Oryem Okello has revealed that remittances from abroad are the highest foreign exchange earner for the country followed by gold and coffee.
Okello made the revelations while presenting the sector’s performance in the NRM manifesto.
He said reports from the World Bank indicate that in 2018, the diaspora contributed USD 1.23bn to the economy compared to USD 1.16bn in 2017.
“This makes remittances from abroad as the highest foreign exchange earner for the country followed by Gold at 1,069,110,000 and Coffee at USD 416,190,000 respectively,” he said.
The minister who said the sector’s performance is at 90% noted that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project was launched at Hoima and Mutukula.
“A commitment was secured from China on funding the Malaba – Kampala SGR Project subject to resolving issues with Kenya and China on extending the line to Malaba from Naivasha,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs participates in meetings as a member of the Project Development Committee regarding the oil refinery.
“In April 2018, Uganda signed a Project Framework Agreement (PFA) with the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium. This Agreement has firmly put in place a framework for designing, developing, financing and operating the refinery in Hoima,” he said.
Okello said that on the promotion of tourist sites to attract more tourists to Uganda, the Ministry through its Missions Abroad continues to participate in major exhibitions to showcase tourism products such as China International Tourism Industry Expo (CITIE), Annual World Travel Market in London UK, ITB Berlin and Indaba-South Africa among others.
“Accordingly tourism revenues have grown from USD$1.37bn in 2016 to USD$1.453bn in 2017 and reached USD$ 1.6bn in 2018,” he said.
The minister further revealed that Cross Border Movement has been enhanced with the use of national identity cards across the three states of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
“Free Movement of Labour and Free Movement of Services. Stop Border Posts along the Northern Corridor,”
He added that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the East Africa Tourist Visa was signed.
According to Okello, Uganda owns 38 properties abroad.
“During the period under review, the Ministry has among others
Completed the construction of a Chancery and two staff apartments in Kigali – Rwanda, completed the construction of a Chancery in Bujumbura
Completed the construction of a Consular and guardhouse in Dar es Salaam, completed the construction of 7 prefabricated accommodation units for staff in Mogadishu,” Okello said.
He noted that the Ministry continues to play an important role on the implementation of the ratified Paris Agreement on Climate and US$ 24.1million was mobilized from the Green Climate Fund for building resilient communities, wetland ecosystems in eastern Uganda.
On the Skilling the youth and job creation through sourcing scholarships and apprenticeship opportunities for Ugandan youth, Okello said 832 Short and long term scholarships in various fields were awarded, an agreement was signed with the Government of Hungary for the construction of; vocational training centers in refugee camps of Kyenjojo district and three Vocational colleges in Kween, Kyankwanzi and Sironko district among others.
“A memorandum of understanding on labour export was negotiated with the United Arab Emirates, 16 -17 February 2019,” he said.
He said its possible Uganda can export labour in an organized manner so that Ugandans that get employment abroad are not exploited.
“Currently Uganda has 41,480 externalized workers (of which 70% are females),” he revealed.
In conjunction with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and multilateral frameworks, Okello said the Ministry secured a grant worth Japanese Yen 2.86 billion from Japan for the “Northern Uganda Medical Facilities Improvement Project”.
“The Missions abroad through their activities have contributed over Shs. 50bn to the consolidated fund for the period under review,”
He added that, “About three import substitution industries have been opened in Uganda an Embassy was opened in Qatar in the FY 2018/19 to facilitate investments from Qatar in the areas of agriculture processing, energy, Oil and Gas and tourism.”
The ministry engages in mobilisation and empowerment of the diaspora
Support for diaspora associations and linkage to national stakeholders for social-economic development.
“For example contribution by Govt of USD 100,000 annually to UNAA through the Uganda Mission in Washington DC, Provision of National Identity Cards for Ugandans living abroad
Issuance of dual citizen certificates to Ugandans abroad,”
Okello said the ministry came up with measures to combat the effects of COVID-19 as it engaged the Government of China on the situation of Ugandans in China adding that they have been able to obtain assistance to support the distressed Ugandans in that country.
“MOFA has also participated on behalf of Government in high-level virtual meetings in sharing with regional and international community on Uganda’s experience in handling COVID-19 pandemic. This has won Uganda admiration and support for its national efforts in combating the pandemic” he said.