KAMPALA – The United Kingdom’s Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford MP was in Uganda on Wednesday 19 January. This is her first visit to Uganda following her appointment as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister for Africa in September 2021.
The Minister’s visit included bilateral meetings with His Excellency President Museveni and the Foreign Minister Honourable Jeje Odongo focused on strengthening security and deepening the economic and development partnership between the UK and Uganda. The Minister also hosted a roundtable event for Human Rights defenders, reaffirming the UK’s commitment to promoting freedoms and democracy.
The visit was also an opportunity for the Minister to emphasise the UK’s commitment to supporting the education and health sectors in Uganda. Minister Ford visited Onwards and Upwards school, a Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) School in Wakiso district, where she met with students who spoke about the impact two years of school closures have had on them and their aspirations for the future.
PEAS is a not-for-profit operator of low-cost, quality secondary schools and has 28 schools in Uganda with over 13,500 students enrolled. The UK has been providing funding to PEAS since 2012 helping support provision of financially self-sustaining low-cost private education to girls. During the COVID 19 school closure PEAS continued to protect access to education through the provision of quality education material to support remote learning. The Minister spoke to school administrators about the PEAS model and how it can be used to get more girls into school.
The Minister visited the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) to witness the successes that have resulted from the collaboration between the UK and Uganda on research into HIV and other related diseases, including Ebola and COVID-19. The UVRI connections with the UK have existed since its founding in 1936 and UVRI now receives funding from the UK Government through the Medical Research Council and the UK Research Institute. UVRI is leading the way in the fight against COVID-19 and the Minister recognised the important role they have played on COVID-19 containment efforts, research and data generation with the help of UK funding.
The UK has been a long-standing supporter of Uganda’s fight against COVID-19 and has already donated almost 300,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses in 2021. This week, the UK agreed with the Government of Uganda that they will donate a further one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Speaking about her visit to Uganda Minister for Africa Vicky Ford MP, said: “The people of the UK and Uganda have a longstanding partnership. My visit to Uganda touched on how deep and wide this partnership is, from regional security to trade and development, from girl’s education to supporting COVID19 response. This is a relationship which benefits the people of Uganda and the UK, and this visit has demonstrated the breadth of opportunities there are to deepen our partnership further.”
“I gained many insights from my frank and wide-ranging discussions with His Excellency President Museveni, his government, our development partners and others. We are positioning the UK at the heart of an unrivalled global network of economic, diplomatic and security partnerships. I look forward to further engagement in those areas where we have identified opportunities for further bilateral cooperation – from regional security, economic partnership, education and women’s empowerment and collectively tackling global challenges like COVID-19.
“I also had interesting discussions with a range of interlocutors about the importance of freedoms and democracy. The UK is a champion of freedom, promoting the values of democracy and equality and we want to continue to work with Uganda on these issues.”
H.E Kate Airey OBE, British High Commissioner to Uganda said: “Minister Ford’s visit demonstrates UK’s desire to grow the relationship between our two nations. We want to see a prosperous Uganda, because a prosperous Uganda means a prosperous UK. I am proud of the work the United Kingdom is doing in Uganda and this visit has been an opportunity to demonstrate the UK’s continued commitment to the bilateral relationship, showcasing UK partnership with Uganda across the board.”