SAN FRANCISCO — Ugandan communities in the diaspora represent a powerful force for the development of Uganda both through remittances and the promotion of trade, investments, innovation and knowledge transfer, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has said.
Speaking at the ongoing Uganda North American Association (UNAA) convention in San Francisco, California, the Deputy Speaker underscored the impact of the diaspora on the Ugandan economy, citing the remittances sent back home annually, saying it is important to create synergies through which government supports the diaspora activities
He said it was too costly for the government to remain silent on issues affecting Ugandans abroad.
“There are unique issues affecting people in the diaspora and we can’t afford to ignore them anymore, the Deputy Speaker said.
“I have read that in 2020, you contributed USD 1.15 billion to our economy. That’s about 2.9% of the GDP,” he said, highlighting other areas where Ugandans abroad are heavily impacting.
Key among other areas he mentioned spurring economic diversification and job creation in key sectors of the economy, but said their potential in some sector remains under-tapped.
Uganda’s central bank says it saw a $1.4 billion boost to the economy last year – thanks to citizens earning abroad.
The average cost of sending money to Uganda remains high at 8.7 per cent, double the Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDG) recommended target of 3 per cent, Tayebwa said government is working around the clock to create an enabling environment for digital financial and payment service providers, and increase competition and consumer protection.
He proposed action that deliberately aims to ensure government meaningfully supports the Ugandan diaspora.
He challenged the Ugandan diaspora to reflect on why they left Uganda, the opportunities that lie back home and the networks they have created and their contribution to Uganda.
The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Denis Hamson Obua saluted UNAA leadership for working the talk and keeping the hope alive.
“The NRM leadership and HE Gen Yoweri Museveni remains committed to provide the desired services to the Ugandans in the diaspora using our mission abroad,” he said
He said government officials are in the North America to listen to diaspora community and return home with tangible action points for purposes of implementation.
He reminded Ugandans abroad that they don’t have a second hand choice country, noting that this must unite them further.