Uganda will gain more from NAM summit – Opondo

Nov 25, 2023

For the next three years, from 2024 to 2026, retired Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the president of Uganda, will formally succeed President IIhame Aliyev of Azerbaijan as chairman of NAM.

Foreign affairs state minister John Mulimba (5th R) launches the upcoming 19th NAM and Third South summits at Kampala Serena Hotel, on November 14, 2023. (Credit: Hajarah Nalwadda)

Hajarah Nalwadda
Journalist @New Vision

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KAMPALA - Uganda will gain from the upcoming 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly, outside of its main agenda.

The summit is scheduled to take place at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Uganda from January 15–19, 2024.

For the next three years, from 2024 to 2026, retired Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the president of Uganda, will formally succeed President IIhame Aliyev of Azerbaijan as chairman of NAM.

The Executive Director of the Uganda Media Center, Ofwono Opondo, stated that Uganda will gain from the NAM summit in a number of ways during an interview with the New Vision at his office in Kampala.

“Everyone will be focused on Uganda,” he added.

It is expected that about 120 heads of state will travel to Kampala for the summit, together with other delegations and senior officials from the 120 NAM member nations, including 18 observer countries, and 10 observer international organizations. 

This is Uganda's second significant hosting of a worldwide event after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007.

The nations that makeup NAM are neither technically affiliated with nor opposed to any major power bloc.

It aims at starting a conversation for a just and equitable world.

In 1961, drawing on the principles agreed at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference, NAM was formally established at the first Summit held on 1st – 6th September 1961 in Indonesia Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Opondo, noted that NAM is made up of nations that were formerly colonies but were suppressed and excluded from international politics, the global economy, and other spheres of influence.

“That is why nearly all African, Asian, and South American countries are members,” he added.

Why is important for Uganda

Opondo noted that the number of delegates alone demonstrates confidence that Uganda is a safe place to host high-profile international meetings.

“These heads of state on average are accompanied by at least 20 people. So, in terms of business, people who are going to spend their nights and spend their money, in your country, we are the beneficiaries. The preparations you do to host that kind of meeting is the one week, which means you spice up your transport system, accommodation, and food,” he added.

He mentioned that the G-77+China Conference, which President Museveni will also open, will begin on January 20, 2024, right after the NAM summit.

According to Opondo, in addition to conference meetings, some delegates will travel to different towns to shop, while others will take an interest in some of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, such as Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo National Parks.

Opondo noted that the number of delegates alone demonstrates confidence that Uganda is a safe place to host high-profile international meetings.

Opondo noted that the number of delegates alone demonstrates confidence that Uganda is a safe place to host high-profile international meetings.

“If they pick interest in these tourism destinations, some will stay longer and spend money, and we all benefit. As they stay longer some might pick interest in other things like business, trade, or investment and can return later. They can even go back and inform other business people in their countries about the opportunities in Uganda,” he added.

He emphasized the meeting presents Uganda with fresh opportunities for collaboration with other nations, which may readily help to bolster economic growth.

“Maybe through this, we should be able to find a country that we had never known, that can help us for example our petroleum sub-sector much better,” Opondo said.

Additionally, he mentioned that this fosters the development of new, nations' bilateral ties with Uganda. 

“This can help us to cooperate and learn from these countries. Like Venezuela leads in the oil and petroleum industry in South America which is good for us. We have never had a proactive representation. Countries like Guan Tamara are good in banana, and fruit production, and are big exporters. So this meeting can help us do joint ventures,” he added.

Invitations sent

Opondo confirmed that government has sent invitations to each of the 120 members and that responses should be received by December 15, 2023.

“That is when we expect a return to know of the 120 heads of state, how many would have confirmed their physical participation, and at what level. Is it the president, Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy President or senior minister, and what level and how big is the delegation,” he said.

He said they have also sent invitations to the 10 observer international organisations and 18 observer countries (China, Argentina, Armenia, Bosnia, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Paraguay, Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Herzegovina, Croatia, El Salvador, Uruguay, Montenegro, and Russia which received the Non-Aligned Movement observer status following the results of the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Member Countries held on July 13-14 in Azerbaijan, which chairs the organization.

According to Opondo, Russia ought to be the NAM's natural ally, because it is one of the very few nations in the world, which has contributed significantly to the decolonization of Africa.

“Russia offered oral and material support to the independence of former colonies of Africa, South America, and Asia. It offered training, and arms and has been offering economic and diplomatic support in the international arena for many of the former colonies,” he added.

He pointed out that even in today’s emerging world, Russia continues to take the lead in role forming the new global order, which “We hope will be a multilateral world order and hopefully better.”

He said with nearly two-thirds of the UN Member States, NAM has a critical role to play in revitalizing multilateral cooperation and forging a new social contract based on inclusivity and sustainability.

During a meeting with President Museveni at the Russia-Africa Summit this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized the significance of NAM for the two nations' bilateral relations.

“Russia and Uganda speak from positions of solidarity in the international arena which are based on a common commitment to the formation of a just multipolar world, and we attach great importance to our further coordination, especially considering that next year you will take over the chairmanship of NAM,” he added.

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