Uganda’s commercial diplomacy program gets a setback over lack of funding to roll-out the initiative to an additional 16 missions abroad.
The program empowers Ugandan Ambassadors to use their deployment in missions to undertake multilateral trade negotiations and consultations, promote Ugandan businesses, lobby for the removal of barriers to trade and investment and promote Uganda as the best Investment and tourist destination, among others.
It is built on the premise that Uganda’s Missions are the lynch-pin in promoting tourism, trade and investment, enhancing technology transfers and mobilizing external resources for the country.
The program was piloted last year in Ugandan Embassies in Berlin, London, Beijing, Pretoria, Abu Dhabi, New Delhi, Nairobi and Guangzhou. Government had planned to extend it to another 16 embassies that were not covered in the Pilot.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kahamba Kuteesa says at least eight billion Shillings will be required to roll-out the program as planned. Part of the money is used to ensure that Ugandan officers undertake specialized training in trade negotiations, commercial, political and multilateral diplomacy to be able to meet the challenge.
However the funding is not reflected in the Ministry’s budget estimates for the Financial Year 2017-2018, according to Kuteesa.
He says that government has also not provided funding to the tune of 10 billion Shillings which is required to open an additional six missions abroad. The proposed Embassies include Brasilia – Brazil, Havana – Cuba, Seoul – South Korea, Lusaka – Zambia, Goma – Democratic Republic of Congo and Dubai – United Arab Emirates.
Kuteesa adds that Uganda risks losing the opportunity to own properties abroad due to lack of funding. He says Uganda had planned to acquire, develop and manage properties in Moscow, Geneva, Tokyo and Kigali. The Ministry of foreign affairs has a proposed 31 billion Shillings for activities in Kampala and 147 billion Shillings for missions abroad for financial year 2017/2018.