Uganda to sign new pact with Russia
Uganda’s bilateral trade with Russia has doubled over the last ten years, from $30m (sh112b) in 2009 to over $74m (sh270 ...
President Yoweri Museveni and Russian President, Vladimir Putin are scheduled to sign new cooperation agreements during the first-ever Africa-Russia summit which opens Wednesday.
At least 35 African countries are expected to attend the two-day summit to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Foreign affairs state minister, Henry Okello Oryem confirmed Uganda's participation in the summit that seeks to bolster Russia's ties with Africa.
"Uganda is going to send a very powerful delegation. We have very close relations with Russia. They are our historical friends since the 1970s and 80s," the minister told New Vision on Friday.
Last week, Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, described Africa as ‘a very important continent' and said Russia was eager to build mutually beneficial cooperation with African countries.
According to Oryem, Moscow has played a crucial role in Uganda and many African countries have kept close ties with Russia since the pre-independence struggles.
"During the East-West tensions of the cold war, Uganda sided with Russia. They gave us weapons, intelligence and supported the fight against apartheid," Oryem disclosed.
Uganda maintains a long history of cooperation with Russia in the fields of defence, education, energy, culture, trade and investment.
In recent years, Russia has conducted training for Ugandan troops and provided military equipment, including six Sukhoi fighter jets purchased from Russia in 2011.
Uganda's bilateral trade with Russia has doubled over the last ten years, from $30m (sh112b) in 2009 to over $74m (sh270b) by the end of 2018, much of it in mining and ICTs.
Uganda is expected to sign cooperation agreements with Russia covering such fields as atomic energy for peaceful purposes and space research.
A comprehensive Uganda-Russia cooperation framework is expected to be unveiled during the forum, with a focus on science and education support.
The two countries are finalizing agreements to broaden cooperation in strategic areas including cybersecurity, minerals, agriculture, housing, health, tourism and vocational training.
Since the 1960s, Russia has offered scholarships to more than 4,000 Ugandans, helping to build Uganda's human resources, according to the foreign affairs ministry.
President Yoweri Museveni has made official visits to Russia, in August 2009 and December 2012 and together with Russia's president Vladimir set up a Joint Permanent Commission.
Russia has pledged to support Uganda to build a national space technology research centre in Uganda to provide solutions to challenges in agriculture, wildlife, border security, among others.
Russia is the latest major power to establish a formal summit for African leaders, after China, India and Japan, which hold periodic summits to discuss development cooperation.