South Africa – At the inaugural Convention of Ugandans in Southern Africa (COUSA), Uganda’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Amb. Paul Amoru, affirmed his commitment to dedicated service for all Ugandans in the region while actively advancing the nation’s interests in collaboration with six regional countries.
Addressing the diverse Ugandan community in Southern Africa on Saturday Amb. Amoru emphasized non-discriminatory service, recognizing the valuable contributions of individuals across political, religious, tribal, regional, and cultural affiliations. “let me categorically put it from the start that your High Commission in Pretoria, which I have the honour and privilege of leading, values and cherishes each and every one of you irrespective of your political, religious, tribal, regional and cultural affiliations. To us, you are all invaluable daughters and sons of our great country. As daughters and sons, we hold the duties of citizenship and service to the motherland, and our contributions, both small and big, are building blocks to our national progress,” he explained.
He acknowledged the vital role played by the Ugandan diaspora in various sectors, emphasizing their significance in national progress.
Amidst the celebration of shared heritage and identity at COUSA, Ambassador Amoru expressed gratitude for the foundation laid by his predecessors. “The convention’s theme, “Unifying Ugandans in Southern Africa,” resonates with Uganda’s current independence theme, emphasizing national unity and progress.” Amoru said.
Highlighting the government’s commitment, Amb. Amoru outlined initiatives, including the establishment of a Diaspora Services Department, the appointment of a Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, and the presence of diaspora desks in various government offices and private sector institutions. “In 2007, Uganda’s President established the Diaspora Services Department (DSD) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address diaspora contributions. The DSD manages a database, facilitates communication, identifies opportunities, and coordinates diaspora interests. To enhance engagement, a Senior Presidential Advisor and two officials at State House were appointed in 2023, supported by various government agencies and private institutions with diaspora desks. These initiatives aim to improve service.” delivery to the Ugandan diaspora.
The ambassador underscored the importance of parliamentary support, citing instances where members addressed diaspora-related issues, including evacuations during crises and facilitating the repatriation of Ugandans from challenging situations.
Turning to bilateral relations, Ambassador Amoru detailed Uganda’s historic ties with South Africa, since before South Africa got her independence in 1994, emphasizing the ongoing cooperation between the two nations. He highlighted recent diplomatic dialogues and cooperation agreements spanning immigration, culture, information technology, women and youth, tourism, trade, and investment.
The success of a recent trade and investment summit between Uganda and South Africa showcased the commitment to eliminating barriers and fostering economic growth. Over 70 South African companies have invested in Uganda, contributing significantly to both countries’ economies.
Amb. Amoru praised the diaspora’s contribution to national development, noting remittances as the second-largest foreign exchange earnings for Uganda in 2018. He encouraged diaspora members to actively engage in social infrastructure, business expansion, and external resource mobilization. “Diaspora significantly fuels Uganda’s development through remittances and Diaspora Direct Investment (DDI). In 2018, remittances reached USD 1.5 billion, marking the second-largest foreign exchange earnings. Engaging in social infrastructure, business expansion, and promoting tourism, trade, and investment enables diaspora members to contribute to national progress.”
In his closing remarks, Ambassador Amoru commended the organization of the event and announced the upcoming Diaspora High Achievers Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions to Uganda. He extended gratitude to sponsors, including PACEID, DFCU, UDB, PSFU, Uganda Airlines, Villa Africa Boutique Hotel, and the Ugandan communities.
As the convention concluded, Ambassador Amoru conveyed his commitment to uniting the Ugandan diaspora, reinforcing their common identity, and strengthening bonds for a collective future.
Government Chief Whip Denis Hamson Obua urged Ugandans in Southern Africa to use the COUSA platform to promote trade in their host Countries.
“Much as we know that you always participate in the economic development of our Country by sending back home remittances, I urge you to use this COUSA platform to promote trade in your host Countries, create businesses, spur entrepreneurship and transfer new knowledge and skills to our people,” he said.