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Diaspora department good for Uganda
Publish Date: Jan 05, 2010
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The plan for the Government to establish a Diaspora department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is welcome news. This is a new step towards Uganda being truly open to viable investment. The fact that the Government has acknowledged the contribution of Ugandans living elsewhere to their country’s development is a significant landmark.

Many countries in the developing world have long recognised that their citizens in the diaspora are the largest non-tangible, although sometimes undocumented export. Government departments dealing with income-generating or spending ventures are known to attract staff and managers with bureaucratic and corrupt tendencies. This should be avoided through a transparent selection and appointment mechanism using the existing public service guidelines on the basis of merit and experience.

The clients of the new department will expect to experience a super-efficient organization run by people with experience in working in similar environments abroad or those who have done business in well-run economies in the region or elsewhere. These people will certainly have intimate knowledge of doing business within or outside Uganda.

There are existing barriers that hamper investment by Ugandans holding passports of other countries. The recent recognition of dual citizenship by Uganda is a step in the right direction.

More work, however, remains to be done in order to streamline this move so as not to disadvantage Ugandans who may have acquired citizenship of another country not out of their own accord. It is unfair to pay $50 each time one enters Uganda and yet they were born in Uganda. This makes Ugandans returning home feel unwanted or regarded as ‘cash cows’.

Secondly, the cost of transferring funds to Uganda is comparatively expensive. Telegraphic transfers still take too long. There is need for a visible, working presence of Ugandan foreign affairs offices where many Ugandans transit through.

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