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UNAA Boston | The 2016 Uganda Trade & Investment Forum

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 23:16

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Date: Wednesday , August 31, 2016
Contact: Benedict Kazora
E-mail: president@eadiaspora.org

WHAT: The Uganda and US private and public sector leaders will present and discuss various trade and investment opportunities between the East African nation of Uganda and the US across many sectors including Manufacturing, Energy, Tourism and Finance.
TOPIC: The 2016 Uganda Trade & Investment Forum “Making Uganda Work. Translating Challenges into Opportunities”.
Event Features:
·Welcome Remarks:
Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda
.H.E Ambassador Olive Wonekha, Ugandan Ambassador the Unites States of America
Guest Speakers:
o Samuel Kirubi, CEO, Equity Bank (Uganda)
o Helena Fruscio, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Massachusetts
o Stephen Mukweli, CEO at PostBank Uganda
o Stephen Pike, Chief Executive Officer of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
o Hon. Mukasa Mbidde, Chairperson, Committee on Communication, Trade & Investment at the East African Legislative Assembly
o Mark Sullivan, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment (MOITI)
o Stephen Assimwe, CEO at Uganda Tourism Board
o Dr. Robert Stoner, Deputy Director for Science and Technology MIT Energy Initiative
o Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi – Minister of State for Housing, Government of Uganda
o James Paul, Director, Boston Office, US Department of Commerce
o Hon. Grace Kwiyucwiny: Minister in Charge of Northern Uganda, Government of Uganda
o Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development & International Trade, Massachusetts
o Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana – Deputy Attorney General, Uganda
o Dr. Lawrence Spinelli: Director of Outreach and Public Affairs at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
o Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa- Government Chief Whip in the Ugandan Cabinet
o Harry Sullivan, Deputy Director for Economic Affairs, US Department of State

·Context for Business in Uganda:
As Uganda’s wealth increases so does the demand for improved infrastructure, reliable energy access and high quality consumer and agricultural products. Recent oil findings in Uganda are projected to push the annual growth rates to above 10%. With the Diaspora’s increasingly developed human and financial resources, what role does this constituency play in enabling a sustainable growth? How is Uganda leveraging her ICT infrastructure to enhance service delivery and access to local, regional and international markets? How smart logistics is used to enhance intra trade?
·Key Sector and Break-Out Sessions:
o Manufacturing in Uganda: Encouraging innovation, lowering costs of labor and materials, improved supplier networks
o Closing the energy gap in Uganda: Affordable Energy. Enabling Socio-Economic Development
o Economic Justice: Fostering Inclusive Growth. Financial Access for the Excluded
o Uganda; the Gateway into East Africa
·Networking Reception.
WHEN: Friday, September 02, 2016 from 8AM-7PM.
WHERE: Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
REGISTRATION: Online and Onsite registrations available
Call UNAA Secretary General, Mr. Peter Mukunya at (972) 891-2342; Eastern Africa Diaspora Business Council at president@eadiaspora.org
For more information, please contact Ben Kazora for media questions and opportunities at benkazora@yahoo.com

UNAA Parties | A Taste of Boston Nightlife with a Uganda’s Very Own Promoter – Alvin Kasule Drip Events

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 08/30/2016 - 22:01

Infotainment — Boston is indeed a lively place. It can blow one away. And for Ugandans travelling to this city for the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention, you better not stay indoors. Come and experience Boston and its nightlife.

Apart from the American history, sports, theater, Boston city’s nightlife is legendary. And it becomes more enriching given the fact that our very own Ugandans run the show of Boston’s Afro Caribbean night life.

Alvin Kasule, a top dog in organizing exclusive events in Down Town Boston. Alvin runs a string of night clubs. Most of the night clubs are only 10 minutes walk from Park Plaza hotel which will hosting the convention.

So, finally UNAA is here- September 2nd to September 4th.   It’s UNAA’s 28th celebration. Lets celebrate our Ugandan heritage and history in style. UNAA has a lot on the agenda. In terms of entertainment, they have lined up Ebonies, Bobi Wine, Irene Ntale, Cindy Sanyu and MC Kapale. The after parties will be hosting by Uganda’s Alvin Kasule aka Alvin DripEvents as your host.

Alvin runs the hottest, sexiest and most talked about Afro Caribbean events in the city of Boston. And from what we know, he has a special milieu for fellow Ugandans in the city this weekend and early next week.

 

“I have been hosting my official celebration on the most exclusive, luxurious cruise called The Spirit of Boston. And now that we will be having a UNAA convention in Boston, it will be awesome having everyone experience the cruise party life with 4 floors of Entertainment, diversity crowd till 3:30am,” he says, adding some clarity to the event. “Most people have been confusing my birthday celebration cruise with the UNAA Dinner cruise. The UNAA cruise starts at 5pm till 10pm, if I’m not mistaken and my birthday celebration cruise starts from 11pm -3:30pm.”

The Spirit of Boston boat cruise party has capacity to accommodate at least 700 people. It is an electrifying, fun, sexy and very upscale party that all fun lovers don’t want to stay away from.

Alvin however recommends the following places between Thursday and Sunday:

Cure Lounge:

Thursday night at Cure is an exclusive international night feature HipHop, Afro Beats, Soca, Reggae, DanceHall where you expect to party like it’s a weekend.

Guilt

Friday night at Guilt is not a night for everyone and thats why we call it Fancy Fridays. The Dress code is extremely upscale. I can only describe it in 3 words. Sexy. Chic. Upscale.

Venu

Sunday is a day for Venu, Boston’s leading Night club destination. It’s the mostbeautiful club in downtown that serves a wide clientele. It’s a club you walk into and expect to collide into a celebrity or two.

Events line up and directions:

#Thursday: SEPT 1ST. 2016 (10PM-2AM)
CURE LOUNGE  located at 246 TREMONT ST. BOSTON

#FRIDAY: SEPT 2ND.2016(10PM-2AM)
GUILT NIGHT CLUB located at  79 WARRENTON ST.BOSTON

#SATURDAY: ALL BLACK UPSCALE AFFAIR • ⚓️ AFROPOLITAN CRUISE⚓️ • SPIRIT BOSTON •

11pm – 3am.
#Tickets  www.alvinsbirthday2016.eventbrite.com

#SATURDAY: SEPT.3RD .2016 (10PM-2AM)
located at 49 SOCIAL 49 TEMPLE PLACE. BOSTON

#SUNDAY: SEPT 4TH .2016(10PM-2AM)
VENU NIGHT CLUB located at  100 WARRENTON ST. BOSTON

Contact: DRIP EVENTS. PO BOX 407 WEYMOUTH. MA. 02188

Phone: 781.534.4115 | WWW.DRIPEVENTS.COM

Labor Day | Convention Weekend | UNAA — What went wrong.

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 08/28/2016 - 22:44

UNAA Philadelphia Convention featuring a handshake between UNAA BOT member and the then Ugandan Ambassador to the USA.

By Ronnie Mayanja — The story of an institution once described as the most vibrant and largest formal grouping of Ugandans living in North America will go down in history as one of the biggest selfish undoing of any Diaspora community organisation. Ugandan North American Association – UNAA as we know it, was born about 29 years ago when a small group of Ugandans met in someone’s living room somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia with the desire to help bring Ugandans living here in the Diaspora together in a thanksgiving atmosphere annually. This idea was later formalized into UNAA,  an institution that now leads as one of the biggest sources of travel visas for those Ugandans coming to the USA.

According to some of the founders still with us today that I have engaged about this subject, they always felt home sick during the US thanksgiving holiday and it was then that this idea was mooted to help celebrate their heritage away from home. Of-course what was supposed to be a small gathering initially morphed into a major convention two years later as the news of the initial successful gathering spread across North America.

First forward to 2016 — almost 30 years later, UNAA is an institution that has withered many storms including attempts to split its membership.  It has also over the years seen a lot of intrigue that has somewhat resulted into the growing number of cliques and special interest groups more powerful that the institution itself. After the Chicago convention we saw the creation of groups like Ugandan American Diaspora Association — UADA try to fight the status quo but this resulted in a still birth even though the founders were fighting what they believed were genuine excesses among the UNAA leaders especially the executive branch at that time. When clear direction, a pressure group of like minded UNAA members came together and fielded a single block of candidates took leadership many did not think that the current split would also involve some of its members who today have become sworn bitter enemies.

At the heart of all the UNAA problems today has always been the invisible clique that wields so much power and influence that even those that attempted to put a check on this influence would be met with a group of well choreographed surrogates that attacked and demonized their opponents on various Diaspora forums. It seems these problems were later compounded when the new constitution enacted in 2010 and ratified by a few members who attended the UNAA town-hall in Washington DC led to the creation of un-elected office bearer positions that now decide UNAA’s fate without recourse to the membership. Some of these members have partly exacerbated the divisions in UNAA resulting in a permanent split of the organisation. Like all conflict there will always be those who benefit from such divisions hence the reason a united UNAA in the foreseeable future might be impossible.

Another factor at play has been the importation of Uganda’s politics to Diaspora events and Conferences. In 2004 the President attended the UNAA convention in Seattle and pledged to support UNAA activities however this support came at a price of influencing UNAA politics along partisan lines. As a sitting government NRM exploited the subsequent conventions to sell its party agenda among the Diaspora. In 2005 I was in the town-hall meet when some NRM MPs — dubbed ‘yellow girls’ that included Hon. Hanifa Kawooya introduced the subject of lifting term limits for the Ugandan Presidency to the Diaspora. Over the years we have seen growing numbers of government representation in UNAA affairs.  This influence was made more evident during the Chicago convention where the government delegation were encouraged to vote as a block for an NRM leaning candidate before the constitutional changes that barred Ugandan attendees from voting.

It is partly this influence that has prompted some members to resist the $20,000 dollars first pledged when the President attended the UNAA Convention in Seattle because its used to arm twist the UNAA membership.  With this sort of foreign aid to help us offset UNAA budget shortfalls we have seen a growing list of government ministers and MPs that show up for conventions often times to socialize with the diaspora. This year it has been estimated that the UNAA Boston convention will witness a record attendances of government representation judging from the more than 30 plus rooms that have been reserved for the government delegation. What of course will be interesting to observe is how much of our diaspora legislation will be up for discussion at the various forums.  With petitions like the dual citizenship law now in the constitutional court for interpretation we await to see how we as a diaspora community will be empowered outside the usual talk that characterizes the three day convention party weekend.

Today UNAA is now split into two camps a row that started between the Board of Trustees and UNAA Council disagreements. This rift was further exacerbated by accusations that led some intelligence officials to politicize the issues within UNAA as either those who were FOR or ANTI- government especially during the run up to the 2016 general elections in Uganda.

With a total operational convention budget of more than USD $250,000 dollars, UNAA has attracted so many players and interest groups many of whom join the institution for purely selfish reasons. As part of its initial vision UNAA was partly created to empower local chapters by strengthening their communities. However, gone are the days when UNAA local chapters were empowered to put up colorful bids that won the hearts and minds of both the UNAA board of directors the UNAA membership at large through an open bidding process for the next convention host. Now the process is stage manage to avoid locations with large numbers that could tilt a balance of power like was the case in New Orleans were less than 60 registered UNAA members cast votes that determined the outcome of an entire UNAA election.

Equally missed today is the system that allowed each service provider to present an open bid for consideration.  Today without advertising bids in this age of social media its unclear how some of those contracts are awarded. Previous boards named budget committees from UNAA members in good standing to create fiscal discipline and avoid unnecessary UNAA expenditure. This was all done to ensure transparency and increase accountability. In Orlando during Captain Frank Musisi’s reign as UNAA President the existence of a company not known to some board members was listed as a commission agent to all UNAA hotel contracts to date Helms Brisco and its connection to UNAA has never been properly explained to members.

 Today even after the convention is held, hardly any post expenditure reports are made public or readily available as stipulated in our UNAA by laws. Loopholes such as the ones exposed when a UNAA Treasurer was embroiled in a scandal after abusing UNAA resources and paying for his personal meals using the UNAA Credit card are only tip of the of the iceberg.  It was partly this modus operandi that prompted a UNAA member in California Mr. Jospeh Musoke to sue the organisation for the failure of the UNAA leadership to display its books for members as stipulated in the UNAA bylaws.

Although the outcome of this litigation is still pending in a Massachusetts court, failure to reign in all these excesses has made the organization more intolerant of dissenting views. As someone who invested many years in UNAA first, as a volunteer and later as an elected official; I feel sad when I see the politics of divide and rule extended so many miles away from home. Although some members have intimated to me about their unwillingness to ever see the two UNAA’s reunited I am tempted to really ask all UNAA members at heart after nearly 30 years of UNAA – what really went wrong. What do we have to show for our existence as a Diaspora Institution that has helped bring so many of us together.

Surely we can do better than this and I really hope those in leadership are listening to the people’s voices. Its not always about you but rather what the members want including those that may not support your agenda. So extending an olive branch is always a good start to resolve conflict.

This weekend as I head out to both UNAA Conventions — in Boston and Los Angeles I am keen to see which of the two UNAA will be more representative of the ideals for which this great institution was founded. However count me among those who still subscribe to the view that the UNAA 2010 constitution was a big blunder that has largely contributed to the current divisions we have witnessed in UNAA’s recent past. Many of the so called UNAA Council positions have largely been left un-constituted or left to hand picked cronies with no prior understanding of UNAA structures.

That said I still dream of the rebirth of UNAA as an institution that will work for all us and remain free of intrigue and radioactive politics for which the institution has become known lately. We also need to write the next chapter of UNAA that provides a micro-credit or mortgage loaning scheme for its members, acquires a UNAA piece of real estate in the diaspora and helps many of our undocumented members gain legal status. By now you would think that a UNAA spearheaded – Uganda Tourism roadshow would be part of the events marketing Uganda’s tourism potential. It should be UNAA and not private members championing legislation that helps reform the diaspora immigration policy since they now enjoy government support. If other minority communities can lobby for their people surely we can do better than hold annual convention parties were the outcome is always predictable!

For UNAA Boston convention details follow the link below — www.unaa.org and for UNAA Los Angeles Convention — www.unaacauses.org. (UNAA Causes past 3 conventions following the UNAA split have been held in San Diego, New York and now Los Angeles.)

UNAA — UNITED WE STAND

HERE ARE SOME OF THE VENUES FOR PAST CONVENTIONS

  • 1988 – Atlanta, GA
  • 1989 – Los Angels, CA (Cancelled)
  • 1990 – Dallas, Texas
  • 1991 – Boston, MA
  • 1992 – Woodbridge, NJ
  • 1993 – Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1994 – Los Angeles, CA
  • 1995 – Chicago, IL
  • 1996 – Toronto, Canada (First time convention held outside of USA)
  • 1997 – Washington, DC (Key Note Speech by US Congressman Donald Payne
  • 1998 – Houston, Texas (Key Note Speech by US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee)
  • 1999 – Atlanta, GA (Key Note Speech by Uganda Prime Minister Dr. Apolo Nsibambi)
  • 2000 – Kampala, Uganda (Key Note Speech by HE President Museveni) – First time convention held outside of North America
  • 2001 – Detroit, MI
  • 2002 – Las Vegas, NV (Key Note Addresses given by panel of speakers)
  • 2003 – Boston, MA
  • 2004 – Seattle, WA (Key Note Speech given by H.E. President Museveni)
  • 2005 – Minneapolis, MN (Key Note Speech by US Ambassador to Uganda Kimmy Kolker)
  • 2006 – New York, NY (Key Note Speech by Dr. Ali Mazrui)
  • 2007 – San Francisco, CA (Key Note Speech by Uganda Vice President H.E Gilbert Bukenya)
  • 2008 – Orlando, FL (Joint Key Note Speech by former UNAA Presidents)
  • 2009 – Chicago, IL (Key Note Speech reserved for US Senator Roland Burris)
  • 2010 – Washington, DC (Key Note Speech reserved for HRH The Nabagereka of Buganda)
  • 2011 – Denver, CO (Key Note Speech by NASA Flight Director, Mr. Kwatsi Alibaruho)
  • 2012 – Philadelphia, PA (Key Note Speech by former 3M CEO & Chairman, Sir. George Buckley)
  • 2013 – Dallas, Texas (Key Note Speech by Oxfam International Executive Director, Ms. Winnie Byanyima)
  • 2014 – San Diego, CA (Key Note Addresses given by panel of speakers representing Central, Eastern, Northern, and Western Uganda)
  • 2015 – New Orleans, LA
  • 2016 – Boston, MA
  • 2017-To be determined

Diplomacy | Envoy leaks Uganda’s secrets on South Sudan at the UN

Uganda Diaspora - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 23:06

L-R Kintu Nyago, US Ambassador Deborah Malac and James Mugume

By TABU BUTAGIRA — KAMPALA. A Ugandan diplomat has “accidentally” shared a confidential government brief about South Sudan with the UN Security Council, triggering a diplomatic incident and embarrassment. In Kampala, Foreign Affairs ministry officials in an attempt to mute the backlash held an emergency meeting with and apologised to US Ambassador Deborah Malac whose country sponsored the August 12, 2016 UN resolution on Africa’s newest nation.

Our investigations show that in the tense run up to the vote on the resolution, Kampala on August 10 prepared a two-page document to provide talking points to guide its diplomats in presenting the country’s position to the world body. Instead, Uganda’s New York Mission Chargé d’affaires Kintu Nyago, who was the acting Head of Mission, forwarded the document with its sensitive and polarising content unedited to the UN Security Council President Ramlan Bin Ibrahim. He urged Mr Ibrahim on the eve of the crucial vote to circulate the diplomatic cable to all the 15 UN Security Council members.

The document, among other things, opposed the US-mooted arms embargo on South Sudan and a phrase in the draft resolution authorising the proposed Regional Protection Force and the UNMISS, the UN Mission in the country, to use “all means necessary” in execution of their mandates.

“The resolution should not be a pretext to undermine the sovereignty of South Sudan…it authorises UNMISS and the Regional Protection Force to ‘use all necessary means’ which is a code for the use of force,” reads the diplomatic dossier that Ambassador Arthur Kafeero prepared on behalf of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary James Mugume.

It adds: “Resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya had this phrase (all necessary means) and it is a vivid reminder of the consequences. [The draft resolution] recognises that unrestricted access is essential for the Regional Protection Force to carry out its tasks as determined by the SRSG (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General). We must avoid a situation where an SRSG has such unwieldy powers in a sovereign state. The sovereignty of South Sudan should be protected.”

Uganda opposed the violent removal of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. And President Museveni, as a member of the then ad-hoc African Union High-Level Panel, led an unsuccessful diplomatic charm offensive across the continent to thwart the France and United Kingdom-led military intervention in Libya.

Five years after Gadaffi’s ouster and eventual killing, President Museveni tied the country’s descend into anarchy on the West’s “arrogance” in ignoring African leaders’ counsel for “African solutions to African problems”.

Sources familiar with the current behind-the-scenes negotiations on South Sudan say the US, whose President Obama said it led from the rear on Libya, consulted Uganda out of courtesy as a key regional security ally and frontline neighbour to Africa’s youngest but restive country.

The August 10 dossier that Mr Nyago, a former deputy principal private secretary to the President who was named an ambassador in 2012, circulated however threatened to derail the good bilateral relations. The envoy was unavailable over two days when we tried to reach him by telephone. In Kampala, PS Mugume said he had apologised and been sanctioned over the unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information.

“The officer (Nyago) has been cautioned and all Heads of Missions briefed to distinguish between internal briefing documents and what they can share,” he said. The diplomatic incident brings to the fore the debate about the hazards of staffing Uganda’s Foreign Service with political appointees, majority of whom are election losers.
This newspaper in an article following the 2012 reshuffle of the ambassadors established that only eight out of 34 Heads of Missions at the time were career diplomats.

The result has been tension and ugly power fights between career diplomats and politicians parachuted and installed as their supervisors, declining quality of representation of Uganda in foreign capitals and, as it happened at the UN on August 11, avoidable diplomatic gaffes.

On Friday, Ambassador Mugume said the Chargé d’affaires was “understandably overwhelmed and doesn’t know” classification and handling of different diplomatic correspondences as the substantive Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Richard Nduhura, was on leave.

Uganda has since reached out to parties that received the dossier to explain that it was “circulated in error”, although the points in the document “were genuine concerns.”

The meeting with US Ambassador Malac in Kampala, according to Mugume, was held because “we didn’t want them to misunderstand that we were against the IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) summit resolution”. Mr Chris Brown, the spokesman for the US embassy in Kampala, said they do not comment on “diplomatic discussions”.

IGAD Plus leaders in a July 16 summit attended by, among others, President Museveni, agreed on the deployment of a Regional Protection Force in South Sudan and extension of the tenure of UNMISS and expansion of its mandate.

Uganda’s position as elucidated in the new document appeared to contrast its July commitment, which some in UN circles interpreted as a lack of unified support within eastern Africa for the proposed South Sudan solution. That notwithstanding, the UN Security Council passed the US-sponsored resolution by 11:4 vote; slapping a one-year arms embargo, an authorization for UNMISS to use “all means necessary” in execution of its mandate, a call for unrestrained access to UN personnel and demand for South Sudan’s government to comply with the resolution unconditionally.

The provisions of the resolutions, as passed, was a diplomatic kick in the teeth of Uganda whose troops, the UPDF, fought alongside the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army or SPLA against Khartoum forces, leading first to the 2005 peace deal and, in 2011, a referendum and independence. The latest bout of violence in Juba has pushed some 52, 000 South Sudanese as refugees in Uganda, according to an August 2, 2016 UN refugee agency update, underlining Uganda’s legitimate interest in the evolving situation in the country.

President Museveni on Friday, August 19, tweeted that he had met with South Sudanese security officials led by SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen Paul Malong, but details of their conversation were not immediately available.

tbutagira@ug.nationmedia.com

Source — Daily Monitor

Tourism & Travel | MPs accuse Uganda Tourism Board of failing to market Uganda

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 23:41

Members of Parliament lashed out at the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) for what they called the failure to promote Uganda as a tourist destination. UTB officials led by the chief executive officer Stephen Asiimwe and head of marketing Edwin Muzahura appeared before Parliament’s committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry on Tuesday to make a presentation on activities and strategies being undertaken by the board.

Asiimwe told the committee that the board has to operate within a budget of only Shs 11.4bn, money he said is inadequate to execute its plans. He noted that the board needs to carry out training exercises for tour operators, guides and hospitality staff across the country as well as continue with marketing Uganda abroad through foreign public relation agencies.

Tourists at Ngamba island

Asiimwe also criticized the continued levy of 18 percent value added tax (VAT) on hotels upcountry as having a negative toll on the sector.

“There is still a challenge on upcountry accommodation. Government has been charging 18 percent VAT. Now, what happens there, is that, every time a visitor comes to a hotel in an upcountry facility where the majority of the leisure tourists go, the VAT is put on the visitor. Then they pay more money, the experience is more expensive and you become less competitive. The issue of national carrier is still very critical. By last week, getting a ticket to Kenya was $800”, he said.

However, some MPs on the committee dismissed the presentation as merely ‘cosmetic’, containing no concrete and viable strategy to increase tourism revenue. The legislators insisted that funding was not the major setback dogging the board. Moses Balyeku, the Jinja West MP, told UTB officials to be more creative and bring in more money to the country.

“Government can’t keep [on] giving you money all the time, it is not there. You need to be more enterprising. Get your own money. UWA [Uganda Wildlife Authority] makes its own money. You have a board member here from UWA who sits on your board. What value does he bring on your board. What value does hotel owners does the hotel owners bring on your board? You first market us as Uganda, as a tourist destination and brand us. The reason why we have been singing all these years is, the other time we spent money on CNN that we are marketing Uganda in a wrong way.”, he said.

FC Barcelona legends enjoying a boat ride on river Nile recently

Dokolo county MP Felix Okot Ogong criticized the board for presenting the same challenges to the committee every year without ever finding solutions.

“I find a problem with the tourism board here. They are into other things but not focusing on what should promote tourism. I think this time, we should do it differently. You have Shs 11bn. Most people don’t have those billions of shillings but how efficiently are you using it? Is it being effectively used to promote what we are saying. The problem actually to me, [committee] chairman, lies with the board”, he said.

But Asiimwe insisted that Uganda had the best tourism master plan on the continent and stressed that the sector had the potential to fund the nation’s entire budget. He however noted that there needed to be a fundamental shift in priorities and attitudes as far as tourism is concerned.

“If you read the UTB tourism master plan, it is a 10-year fantastic paper, countries are clamoring to own it, countries are dying to own it. In terms of what it takes to market this country, we have but we need a fundamental shift in the way we look at its products. And I really insist, this thing needs to be taken beyond just the committee but of course the committee can spearhead this and we fundamentally look at tourism as a very important sector”, Asiimwe said.

Despite underfunding, in FY 2014/15, sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to Shs 6.3 trillion (9 percent of GDP) up from 5.6 trillion (7.9 percent of GDP) the previous year. In the same period, the number of tourists increased from 1,206,334 visitors in 2013 to 1,266, 046 visitors in 2014. UTB attributed this to better marketing strategies.

Source — The Uganda Observer.

Inspiring Stories | Akoma Media | A Journey of Reinvention By Zain Verji

Uganda Diaspora - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 18:06

It’s been a two-year breathless roller coaster going from Big Name Global Corporation to Just Me LLC. After an amazing fourteen years at CNN and magnificent personal and professional life experiences, it was time to reinvent myself. I was at the top of my game, but I had flat-lined. There was no more growth. I needed inspiration. I needed to regain a sense of control. I joined CNN at 25. I was 40. I could no longer see a clear path forward.

The only avenue where I felt in charge of myself was writing. I was accepted into a two-year Masters program in Creative Writing at Oxford University. It offered me a psychological outlet in prose and poetry, which also allowed me to pivot professionally and seek an alternative path forward.

Months after leaving CNN, there was a moment of deep dread when I realized reinvention was not simply hitting reset. Revival does not come without the hard work of self-reflection, stripping away self-perception, standing naked in front of your fragile self and determining a meaningful course forward.

 

The transition to being an entrepreneur has been tough. After all, who would I really be in the world without the power of a recognizable brand by my face? I’ve always needed it to define myself, I thought. I’ve learned that I do not.

There were many times I was sure I would sink. While stuck in quicksand, I questioned my choices dozens of times. I was throwing myself off a cliff into a technology start up, that almost all those who loved me told me not to pursue, and instead recommended that I parlay global recognition and my Rolodex into lucrative contracts. After all, I had no idea how to do it. That part was accurate.

But my passion trumped my fear. A desire to realize a vision was stronger than all the skepticism thrown my way. A belief in my own ideas became more important than executing someone else’s. I would rather try and fail, than not try at all.

Each day brings with it a large dose of self-reflection, self-motivation, self-flagellation and self-doubt. The range of skills, discipline, and steely self-belief called into play in building a start up from the trenches has been mind-blowing. The extent of loneliness involved in this enterprise has been harsh.

Leading a TV show team was not leading a business. I knew I wanted to build a digital media network focused on African storytelling. What was it exactly, what gap were we addressing specifically, and what was the business model? An incredible core team has built akomanet.com.

aKoma Media

We are an Africa-focused content and storytelling platform. We are fostering a community where a combination of user-generated content and original content about Africa and its diaspora is being created, published and shared with the world. We want to capture the diverse and creative energy of the continent, and from our own local African perspectives.

We have built a content management system called Myst (My Studio) that allows for easy content creation on mobile phones for video, writing, photo storytelling and audio podcasts.

We have developed our own talent network called ‘Tribe’, where we nurture talent and give them our expertise, and access our professional contacts, to develop their skills. We provide the blank canvas for their work.

Creating aKoma has taken patience, something I have had to learn. I have ditched reading novels for books like, ‘The Lean Start Up’, ‘Creativity Inc.’ and ‘Traction’. I’ve had to understand market size, value propositions, the lean canvas; digital product development tools such as pivotal tracker, data analytics, hero images, legal releases, marketing plans and much more. It’s been terrifying. It has been exciting. It has been all consuming.

Source — Akoma Media

Opinion | Uganda’s much-discussed bailout – By Andrew Mwenda

Uganda Diaspora - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 17:42

If Uganda has to intervene to help distressed companies, it must be driven by the desire to avoid contagion. The failure of some of the distressed companies can lead to the failure of banks with worse consequences than the costs of a bailout.

Secondly, an economy is a circular flow of income: one person’s expenditure is another person’s income. Distressed companies must have suppliers who depend on them for business. If they go under, this may impact the ability of their suppliers to service their own loans as well.

In Uganda’s case, it may be advisable to work with the central bank to relax prudential rules, based on a government guarantee. The aim would be to help commercial banks and their customers to restructure loans in a more comprehensive way than is right now allowed by the Financial Institutions Act. The loan maturity period could be lengthened and interest costs reduced. This will keep commercial banks’ balance sheets healthy without taking away the responsibility and pressure on them to collect the debt and the risk of failing to do so.

Companies that are facing a short-term liquidity squeeze due to factors such as conflict in South Sudan, delayed payment from government, price volatility, customers who have failed to pay, low sales, termination of business contracts, breakdown of key equipment, fraud and poor management can restructure, improve themselves and pay back. Those that are uncompetitive or undisciplined will go under. That is why government should not cherry pick whom to help and whom not to. Any government committee mandated to set criteria for a bailout will become a theatre of influence peddling and corruption leading to acrimony and political contestation.

The problem facing banks right now, as stated by Uganda’s leading tycoon and owner of Crane Bank, Sudir Ruparelia, is that half of Kampala is on sale. If banks offload all collateral on the market, there will be a collapse of the real estate market. This is in large part because those in the best position to buy real estate are also the ones who are distressed. Those that are not distressed are still hedging their bets and are unlikely to put their money into brick and motor given the prevailing economic uncertainty.

I agree real estate prices in (especially) Kampala have been overpriced and there is need to let them come down to reflect actual fundamentals of the economy.

But it would be disastrous to let the housing market collapse totally. This could easily infect practically everyone because real estate is the main collateral banks use to lend. Its collapse will force banks to revalue their collateral and ask borrowers to find more security or recall the loans, a factor that will cause many more loans to go bad.

Relaxing a strict enforcement of prudential rules by the central bank means that government will not spend any taxpayer money on the bailout. It also means that neither the lenders nor the borrowers have been let off the hook – they will only have been given a short (one to two years) breather. But it has potential to help healthy companies restructure and survive while the weak ones collapse and go out of business. It will also help the central bank dissuade commercial banks from their exaggerated interest rates. The ball is in the central bank’s court.

Source — The Independent Magazine.

Boston Events | Women of Purpose International (WOPI) Conference | Aug19th Thru 21st From 6:30pm -10pm

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 07:35
Women of Purpose International (WOPI) are thrilled to extend this invite to all friends, well wishers on August 19th thru 21st, 2016 at 6:30PM-10PM and Sunday doors open at 4:00PM.  Please join us for our 9th Annual Women of Purpose Conference. The event will be held at Victory Family Church at 161 North St, Newtonville MA 02460. Our theme: Travail: Isaiah 66:7-8 FOR AS SOON AS ZION TRAVAILED, SHE BROUGHT FORTH HER CHILDREN.  We have great speakers Apostle Grace Lubega from Phaneroo Ministries  Uganda Prophetess Sarah Morgan From Women of Vision Califonia Pastor Waswa Godfrey one of the twin Brothers Uganda Bishop Munene Edward Uganda. He will speak about the issues of Women Men, Women, Childeren, Janja’s and all the youth are invited Come and hear about the  Projects that WOPI is going start in Uganda that will impact our nation. Lots of testimonies. Lunch on Sunday @ 3:00 pmOur Mission at Women of Purpose International is to use Fellowship to empower immigrant women to achieve their preordained destinies. We organize forums for a cultural spectrum of women to share ideas, grow self-confidence, and achieve their dreams.  Our Ministry partners with both religious and secular institutions to heal, deliver, support and motivate.

Our Vision is to create a network of self-sufficient chapters providing support to immigrant communities.

We value families first, therefore, we are inviting both women and men to our 9th annual Women of Purpose International Conference. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at (857)204-6067. Email: doros24@yahoo.com womenofpurpose

Opinion | Letter From a Kampala Friend | Beware of the dark world of the Internet – By Muniini K. Mulera In Toronto

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 22:53

Dear Tingasiga:

Social media like Facebook and WhatsApp are valuable tools for communication of positive and constructive information.  However, they are also dangerous forums through which cowards and small-minded people merchandise lies that they would not dare state face-to-face.

Once posted on the Internet, outright fabrications and myths become quotable sources for the gullible. Some unsuspecting cyber-citizens, believing that everything published via the Internet must be true, become part of the distribution chain of deception and defamation.

I was told that in the days leading up to the recent elections of the International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB), in which I was candidate for president of the organization, some people descended into the gutter of sewer politics in an attempt to tarnish my name.

Whereas I did not bother to read the fiction that, I am told, was published on social media and the New Vision newspaper, many fair-minded people called and wrote to express their outrage.

Some, including lawyer friends, urged me to take legal action against the authors and transmitters of the defamation. I remained silent because I did not consider it worthwhile to dignify with a response the false utterances of people possessed of what the French call petitesse d’esprit (narrow-mindedness.)

In any case, I knew the fiction writers and distributers to be victims of the Tall Poppy Syndrome, a description of which is available by searching on my website http://mulerasfireplace.com/the-african-and-the-tall-poppy-syndrome/

They certainly did not merit any attention. They only merited pity and prayers for redemption.

By the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I easily forgive the slanderers and pray for their redemption from the dark and sad world of hatred and destruction in which evil thrives. I am very much aware of the politics behind the smear campaign. It goes with the territory when one deals with folks who substitute slander for reasoned argument.

It is to be expected when one upholds the truth in a situation where some people would rather engage in cover-up of criminality.

Diaspora Ugandans regularly condemn corruption and poor governance back home. Yet many are enablers of similar criminal conduct in Ugandan Diaspora organizations.

For example, a Ugandan pastor of a church steals the congregation’s money. The council members who discover the crime and insist on removal of the pastor from his position are vilified and slandered.

Leaders of a Ugandan Diaspora organization are caught engaging in “creative accounting” and other attempts at sabotaging orderly governance. They resort to slander and gutter language against those who expose the fraud. Their supporters loudly cheer them on.

Perhaps none of this would matter if acted out in some lawless village back home where subjects glorify corruption and misconduct by their rulers.

Not so here in North America where the law eventually catches up with you. A California-based Ugandan lawyer and others recently sued the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) and some of its former leaders. The charges are rather serious.

I am also told that the Inland Revenue Service of the USA is examining a complaint about UNAA’s alleged financial mismanagement and other poor compliance with the requirements of a Section 501 (c) 3 Tax-exempt organization.

These are some of the consequences of the failure to shed the old village way of doing things.

They will continue to haunt Diaspora organizations whose members remain silent or turn a blind eye to obvious shenanigans and criminal conduct. Silence in the face of criminality and other misconduct by community organization leaders is tantamount to enabling the perpetuation of such behaviour.

The Bible says in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

The Apostle Paul is more direct in Ephesians 5:1. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Now, those of us who choose to boldly speak up and expose such sins will be subjected to defamation and third-rate fiction. But we rejoice because the Lord has already assured us in Matthew 5:11 that we are blessed when people insult us, persecute us and falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of Him.

Not that we are perfect ourselves. Not that we have attained the goal of faultless living and service to the Lord. However, we walk and speak with confidence, exposing facts and truths that may be inconvenient to some. We are able to forgive the slanderers because we are beneficiaries of the forgiveness we freely received from Christ who died so that we may be saved from life in l’cœur des ténèbres (the heart of darkness).

The Internet has become the Devil’s new dark frontier. We must be alert and on guard. Paul’s words in Ephesians 6: 10-20 assume greater urgency today. Encouraging us to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power, Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God in our struggle against the devil’s schemes and against the powers of this dark world.

The devil cannot win when we don the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

None of this precludes the use of the laws of Canada, the United States of America, Britain and other countries to invite the slanderers and distributers of the same to a conversation with lawyers and judges.

muniini@mulerasfireplace.com

The Uganda Olympic Team | Rated Among the Best Dressed During the Opening Ceremony of the Rio-Olympics 2016!

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 08/07/2016 - 07:11

Flag bearer Joshua E Tibatemwa of Uganda arrives for the opening ceremony on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (REUTERS/DAVID GRAY). The Mail and Guardian of Canada rated Uganda among the best dressed Olympic teams during the Rio opening games. The statement read Uganda – Only a hint of flash was needed on these uniforms – bright red blazers were decorated with boldly striped lapels.

On his part the man behind the designs also thanked his creator for all the support and overwhelming feedback his creations received. Below is part of Mr. Rafael Allan Kasule Facebook post. I bless the Lord for the opportunities he creates, its only through him we do what we do. All glory and honor to God. Proud to be associated with the team Uganda rio olympics 2016.. K Rafael couture…….. Do us proud team Uganda.

Screen-shot of team Uganda — Shows off Rafael Kasule’s designs. Rafael will be one of the featured headline designers at this year’s Ugandan Diaspora Gala 2016 edition. He can be contacted directly  at rakadesigns@yahoo.com 

Death Announcement | Annette Battaka of Maryland Passes On!

Uganda Diaspora - Sat, 08/06/2016 - 20:56

The Family of Mr. Ivan Battaka of Maryland, USA announces the untimely death of our friend, colleague, sister, wife and mother. Annette Battaka took ill a couple months ago and had bounced back but unfortunately passed away yesterday August 5th 2016 at Sub Urban hospital from complications arising out of cirrhosis an end stage liver disease.

Burial arrangements are being made and will be communicated and it is likely to take place sometime towards the end of the coming week here in Maryland.

We will have a gathering (lumbe) today saturday 8/6/2016 between 3pm and 9pm at The Metropolitan, 7620 Old Georgetown road, Bethesda MD 20814 in the community room on the penthouse level. There is free public parking adjacent to the building on weekends.

Mrs. Dorothy Angole at 301 675 3103 and Mrs Alyce Byamukama at 240 643 8041 will be coordinating the refreshments for those of you who will be in position to assist.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Events | YALI White house Meet | Why Emmanuel Odama Introduced President Obama at the YALI Town Hall

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 08/04/2016 - 21:21
Emmanuel Odama, a Young African Leaders Initiative fellow, shares what the YALI initiative has meant to him and his community ahead of today’s town hall.

Today, Emmanuel Odama sent this email to share why he’ll be introducing President Obama at today’s town hall for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Started in 2010, YALI has brought hundreds of thousands of young people across the continent together to make their communities, countries, and continent more prosperous and secure.‎ Emmanuel is one of those young leaders. Didn’t get his message?

I come from Uganda — from a farming community in the countryside where I learned what I know from the farmers I grew up with.

When I had the chance to complete my education in agricultural science, the hardest decision I had to make was whether to find a new job or return to my local community and teach them a little bit of what I had learned.

More than anything else, I wanted to see improvement in the livelihoods of the farmers that helped me become the agricultural scientist, pastor, and mentor that I am today. So I returned home to the Arua district in Uganda, and spent years working to pass on the knowledge and skills I had gained.

My passion is to be a part of bringing solutions to the country, and continent, where I grew up. That’s how so many of my fellow Africans who are part of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) feel, too.

As President Obama knows, the African continent is not only in need of transformational leaders, but leaders who will make the deliberate effort to inspire those they lead to take up the mantle — particularly young leaders, who are looking for seasoned role models to emulate.

For all the challenges Africa faces, it is my hope that, just like the Fulbright Fellowship program and Peace Corps Volunteers program, YALI will continue to shape and support more young African leaders who return home to embrace the challenges they grew up with — and the challenge of being the generation that will offer the African continent a new hope for a better future that we can pass on to our younger siblings, our children, and our great grandchildren.

Thanks to President Obama and the legacy he leaves with YALI, so many of us our are well-poised to do it.

So please join us at the town hall today at 3:20 pm ET to hear President Obama’s answers to our questions about the future of young leaders in Africa and around the world.

Thank you for listening to my story,

Emmanuel Odama

Source — WhiteHouse.gov

 

Events | EACC Conference 29th Sept – 1st Oct Dallas, Tx | The 9th Annual East Africa Chamber of Commerce Trade Conference 2016

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 08/04/2016 - 06:37

Elsa Juko-McDowell, Chairwoman of the East Africa Chamber of
Commerce.

The 9 th Annual East Africa Chamber of Commerce Trade Conference 2016 Dallas, TX – The East Africa Chamber of Commerce (EACC) will be hosting its 9th Annual Trade Conference at the Sheraton Galleria Hotel by the Galleria located in Dallas, Texas.

The event will begin on Thursday, September 29th and run through Saturday, October 1st 2016. “Accelerating Growth” is the focus for this year’s event. Our open forums and warm marketplace venue welcomes everyone interested in key introductions, education, partnerships and investment in East Africa. Among others, organizations in the finance, real estate, clean energy, healthcare, tourism, hotel, transportation and logistics industries will be present during this year’s conference.

East African Community (EAC) ministries of governmental as well as non-governmental organizations will also be there to share insights about their industries. A series of panel presentations will allow both business and government leaders to share information within their fields of expertise as well as answer questions.

“As an international chamber, our membership spans all of North America and East Africa. Based in North Texas, we are proud to showcase regional success stories related to how the diaspora community works and lives. Similar master-planned communities are exploding across the EAC where there is a real need for Trans-Atlantic collaborations, partnerships, investments and operational support,” said Elsa Juko-McDowell, Chairwoman of the East Africa Chamber of Commerce.

Notable organizations that will be present include the University of Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University, and several East African embassies. Additionally, distinguished guest Donald Kaberuka is the keynote speaker for the conference. Kaberuka is currently a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a board trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. The event will conclude with a grand Dinner Gala on Saturday, October 1st from 6:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Tickets to the Gala are available at http://www.eachamber.com

About East Africa Chamber of Commerce EACC is dedicated to economically empower and sustain member communities through entrepreneurship, and to consult and promote trade opportunities in both the U.S. and East Africa via interaction with each region’s businesses and governmental sectors. The East Africa member countries represent the emerging markets of a growing economic region with a total population of 135 million people.

To register for the conference visit www.eachamber.com

Ugandan Diaspora Editorial | August 2016 | It’s Official Trump vs Clinton Is Game On — Uganda’s Biggest UNAA Conventions Are Here!

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 08/03/2016 - 06:33

Dear Readers,

Welcome to August, the best part of summer in the Northern hemisphere. For those into politics it is now 100 days to the next US general election. Last month the Republicans held their national convention in the battleground state of Ohio. This was unlike anything we have seen before, from Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech of 2008 to Sen. Ted Cruz’s meltdown and the boycott of key Republican leaders of the Republican National Convention (RNC), a spectacle like no other, in which Donald Trump got the highest ratings for number of viewers– 34.2 million viewers during his acceptance speech. Trump also picked Gov. Mike Pence, a conservative from Indiana, as his running mate, a move that resonated positively with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But Trump’s scorched earth policy and reckless comments which have failed to cause him to lose support have also bewildered many.  With the slogan “Make America Great Again” he has been promoting himself as a the law and order candidate that would safeguard the American borders.

A week later it was time for the Democrats to gold their convention in Philadelphia. Following the email scandals that revealed the DNC executives’ bias in favor of Hillary Clinton, supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders staged protests at the convention, angered over how Hillary had been favored by the establishment. The impasse was later defused by the resignation of the DNC Chair Ms. Debbie Wassermann Schultz and Bernie’s speech that endorsed Hillary as the Democratic Party presumptive nominee, burying the hatchet that had seen the two leading contenders battle for their party nomination for months. There was fear that things would veer off course on the first night for the Democrats as Sen. Al Franken and comedian Sarah Silverman worked the crowd.

Sanders had energized many of the youth voters in a revolution that saw mass registration for the Democratic Party. However equally noteworthy was the fact that many in Sanders’ base had indicated they would note vote Hillary if she became the presumptive nominee. The resistance to the Clinton machinery has been stronger this time round owing to the many  scandals and skeletons in their closet!

It was speeches by the power couple Barack and Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (who has changed party affiliation, going from Democrat to Republican to Independent) that gave Hillary the much needed boost. She also chose a Tim Kaine, Senator of Virginia as her VP pick. Generally considered a centrist, Kaine has described himslf as “old-fashioned liberal…driven by Jesuit ideals”. He spoke both English and Spanish during his acceptance speech. However the final night belonged to Hillary who did well to show the rest of the world that after more that 200 years the glass ceiling had been broken, and movements like those at Seneca Falls and the Voting Rights Act had all yielded fruit, making Hillary Clinton the first woman to win her party nomination. If elected, Hillary would become the 45th US President following in the footsteps of her husband Bill Clinton who was number 42. However the speech came under criticism by some still undecided voters who say she failed to comment or apologize for Benghazi and the email server scandal.

With both candidates duly nominated by their parties the real campaigns begin. Both Trump and Hillary have been the most unpopular candidates to have ever vied for the presidency. But what matters is they both got the votes to defeat their opponents in the primaries. Trump, as an outsider who has never held elective office, managed to overcome 17 seasoned Republican politicians including governors and senators. It was thought by many in the Democratic Party 2016 would be Hillary’s time after having fought a bitter contest with President Barack Obama in 2008, which partly explains why Bernie Sanders stood no chance, even after energizing the youth vote and polling over 13.1 million votes – 3 million less than Hillary Clinton.

However with a population of more than 300 million people and with the Brexit vote still fresh in many of minds, a Trump presidency cannot be ruled out, especially having seen how this reality television star fended off all of the competition to remain the last man standing, getting the party nomination. And so only November will determine which party or personality will prevail the political outsider or the seasoned politician. The battle lines have now been drawn and the election results in the states of Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio could well decide who will be the next President of the United States.

Last month was a special month for the Ugandan community in Boston. We were privileged to host the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State — Bureau for African Affairs, Mr. Todd Haskell, who paid a courtesy call on the Ugandan-American community of Boston. Part of that conversation revolved around human rights abuses back home, democratization and the rule of law, and State Department policy toward the African Diaspora community and Uganda as a whole.

During this visit it was also inspiring to hear remarks by the Mayor of Waltham, a city that is home to many Ugandans. Mayor McCarthy called upon the community and the leadership to start participating the local politics as a way to effect change in their community. She spoke of the need to join school committees and the importance of volunteering in various community roles.

See link to learn more and see full coverage of the meeting: http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/07/21/mr-todd-haskell-deputy-assistant-secretary-of-state-bureau-for-africa-affairs-visits-ugandan-community-in-boston/

We are now just a few weeks away from the two biggest Ugandan Conventions, September 2nd to September 4th 2016. Come Labor Day Weekend Ugandans in Boston shall be gathering at Park Plaza Hotel for both business and pleasure. This year the organizers for UNAA Boston have also added the Ebonies to their list of entertainers.  www.unaa.org 

On the west coast the UNAA Causes group will also be gathering, at the JW Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles. Here they have planned the US – Africa Business Expo and an interesting star-studded lineup of Ugandan entertainers that will include the New York-based supermodel Aamito. Overall this year’s conventions should be a litmus test on what we do as a community beyond the three-day festivities. www.unaacauses.org 

For my part, about two years ago during a meet and greet tour of Boston I brought it to the attention of our Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda that although Boston was one of the largest Ugandan Diaspora constituencies in North America, it did not have an honorary consul for Uganda, even with all the Ivy league universities and technology companies based in Massachusetts. This was two years ago and the then Ugandan Ambassador Olivia Wonekha had promised to look into this and confer with her superiors about the matter. There is a lot we can do for our country, especially as well placed professionals living in the Diaspora. Texas, Colorado, California have longed enjoyed honorary consulates that are big drivers for business if well utilized.  http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2015/05/29/prime-minister-of-uganda-nduggu-dr-ruhakana-rugunda-in-a-boston-meet-and-greet-session/

The other aspect that will need to be addressed is our petition regarding the dual citizenship law that is now before the constitutional court for interpretation — for so long we in the Diaspora have been short changed even after making headlines during the Uganda Presidential debates. http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/06/07/uganda-dual-citizenship-law-diaspora-community-petitions-constitutional-court-to-interpret-dual-citizenship-law/

The conventions in both Boston and Los Angeles would have been great opportunities for both the Ugandan Tourism Board and Ugandan Wildlife Authority to brand and market Uganda, not only to the Diaspora communities but to Americans residing in those cities. Partnering with Emirates that flies direct to Boston  and Ethiopian Airlines that now flies direct to Los Angeles would have yielded some good dividends compared to the huge sums we pay foreign companies to market our country outside the local communities.  A marketing budget of about 40,000 dollars for the two conventions would help create a media blitz of sorts by helping advertise Uganda on the subway and creating moving billboards on the local buses on why Uganda is “gifted by nature”. During the run up to CHOGM we paid CNN $1 million dollars so why not spend $50,000 dollars to help market Uganda among Ugandans by using such Road Shows with all the political elite present?

The saddest part is that there has been no government outreach to try and engage the Diaspora professionals that could help create this buzz or sell and promote Uganda’s vast natural beauty. In my view those 15-minute tailored presentations during the business forums only appeal to the converted, yet there is so much untapped potential on main street. For example, big government delegations are due in Boston and LA at the end of August. But if you ask how many meetings have been set up at Harvard, Tufts or Yale for exchange students or at the headquarters of the tourism giant Trip Advisor I would be surprised if any have been arranged with them or the many important companies headquartered in Massachusetts.

John F Kennedy once said during his Inaugural Address, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Uganda is for all of us and no one group or party has a monopoly of good ideas on how best to promote Uganda abroad. The onus is on us to make a difference. There is no reason why tourism is not the number one foreign exchange earner for our struggling economy that will soon bail out struggling businesses as the tourism sector continues to suffer from negative publicity internationally. It all starts with empowering the people to market and sell this great republic in the places we live and work in the Diaspora. This is where Rwanda and Kenya beat us hands down!

For God and My Country!

— Ronnie Mayanja

Ugandan Diaspora News | www.ugandandiasporanews.com |
Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | www.ugandandiaspora.com |
US | +1-978-235-2459 | UG +256-773-212-007 | +256- 794-999-898 |
Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanjahttp://www.linkedin.com/in/ronniemayanja

Mobile Money | Kenyan Diaspora Sends One Million Money Transfers with WorldRemit

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 07/27/2016 - 22:30

NAIROBI, Kenya – July, 27 2016 – Kenyans living abroad have now sent one million money transfers with WorldRemit. With the WorldRemit app or website, the diaspora can send safe, instant transfers to Kenya at the touch of a button.

Mobile Money has played a key role in the popularity of WorldRemit money transfers to Kenya, as Kenyans discover the speed and convenience of sending remittances direct to mobile phones. WorldRemit now sends more than 50,000 transfers to Kenya every month, with over 90% going to Mobile Money accounts such as M-Pesa and Airtel Money.

Customers can also send transfers direct to bank accounts, for cash pick up from KCB Bank Kenya and Upesi Money Transfer branches, or as mobile airtime top up. Around three million Kenyans live abroad with large communities in countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

The contribution of the diaspora – including remittances – is recognized as a critical component in the growth of the Kenyan economy and achieving Vision 2030[1]. Inward remittances reached a record value of $146.76m in May 2016, according to the Central Bank of Kenya, making it one of Kenya’s top earners.

Alix Murphy, Senior Mobile Analyst at WorldRemit, comments: “Kenya is renowned for leading the world in Mobile Money and we’re now seeing Kenyans at the forefront of adoption of Mobile Money remittances. The vast majority of our Kenyan customers choose to receive remittances on their M-Pesa or Airtel Money accounts instead of collecting cash. It’s convenient, secure and means no more travelling to money transfer agents.

“With over 400 million registered accounts worldwide, Mobile Money is transforming lives by allowing people to access financial services for the first time. As is being showcased in Kenya, Mobile Money will become the method of choice for receiving remittances in many countries across the world.”

WorldRemit is the leading sender of remittances to Mobile Money, with connections to 32 services in 24 countries. WorldRemit began offering remittances to Kenya in March 2011.

Source — World Remit Press Office

UNRA | Uganda National Roads Authority – Kampala – Entebbe Expressway Takes Shape.

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 19:21

Kampala – Entebbe Expressway is slowly taking shape and will be a welcome addition to Uganda’s expanding road network. The four-lane toll highway under construction in the Central Region of Uganda.   The Kampala-Entebbe Expressway is part of the measures to decongest the Central Business District and enhance trade movement through, within and out of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.

The urban congestion is increasing in Kampala at an estimated rate of 4.5% annually with increased motorization Kampala is facing heavy traffic jams, especially during the peak hours and the road can no longer accommodate current traffic. The proposed New Kampala – Entebbe Highway is consistent with the recommendations and objectives of the Master Plan of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area by providing an efficient mass transit route between two vital cities in the region. This project forms a crucial part of Government’s overall strategy for decongesting Kampala through construction of an inner beltway comprising the Kampala Northern and Southern Bypasses as well as an outer beltway along the edges of the Great Kampala Metropolitan Area.

The Contract for the Design and Build of the project was awarded to China Communication Construction of China (as the Contractor) by the Ugandan National Roads Authority (the Employer) with the date of signing of a conditional contract agreement on 26 October 2010 and agreed changes are executed through Addendum No.1 signed on June 4, 2012. The Consultancy Contract for the Supervision of the Design and Construction of the project was awarded to Beijing Expressway Supervision Co., Ltd (as the Engineer) and the agreement for the Consultancy Service was signed on May 2, 2012. The contract period is 48 months of Construction Supervision Period plus 24 month of defect liability period. The Engineer’s notice to commence the works was May 17, 2012 and finally modified to commence as July 25, 2012 upon the request of the Engineer and the Meeting held on July 3, 2012.

The highway starts at Entebbe International Airport and continue to Abayita Ababiri, goes through Akright City, Kajjansi, and Kabojja, and end at Busega, where it joins the Kampala Northern Bypass Highway, a distance of approximately 37.23 kilometres (23.13 mi). A spur will branch off the highway at Kajjansi to connect to Munyonyo, a suburb of Kampala, located on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, a distance of about 14.13 kilometres (8.78 mi).

Historical brief — In 2009, the government of Uganda (GOU) began consultations with the government of China regarding the construction of a four-lane (dual-carriage) highway connecting Entebbe and Kampala. In November 2010, the two governments signed an agreement where the Chinese government, through the Exim Bank of China, would lend up to US$350 million for the construction of the highway, repayable over forty years.

Construction costs — In 2012, the expressway was estimated to cost US$476 million (UGX:1.19 trillion). Of this, US$350 million (UGX:875 billion) is a loan from the Exim Bank of China at 2 percent annual interest.  The remaining US$126 million (UGX:315 billion) will be provided by GOU.  The government earmarked UGX:123 billion to compensate land owners along the expressway route.

Photo by UNRA — Additional report from UNRA website and agencies.

Travel Advisory | Uganda slashes single entry tourist visa fees by 50 Percent!

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 08:29

With effect from today July 22nd, tourists seeking to come to Uganda will pay half of the money they have been paying for single entry tourist visas. Government has halved the fees from $100 to $50 in an effort to encourage more tourists to come to the country that has been consistently ranked among top tour destinations in the world for the past few years.

The CNN travel magazine last year ranked Uganda among the 16 top tourist destinations in the world. In 2012, Lonely Planet, another global travel magazine, ranked Uganda as a number one tourist destination. Bloom Consulting, a global form specializing in country branding and ranking, placed Uganda in the eighth position among the top ten tourist destinations in 2014.

Bwindi Impenetrable and Murchison Falls National Parks have separately been ranked among to birding sites in Africa. According to a statement issued by the internal affairs ministry on Thursday, a statutory instrument has been issued to effect the changes in visa fees. Uganda sells other types of tourist visas including multiple and transit permits.

The fee for other visas has not been revised. The decision to slash single tourist visas fees, according to the internal affairs ministry, was reached after a request by officials from tourism docket. “All people seeking to enter Uganda shall pay $50 instead of $100. All Ugandan borders have been notified to effect the change,” reads a statement from the internal affairs ministry. The internal affairs ministry spokesperson, Jacob Simunyu, said Uganda was charging the highest fees for single entry tourist visas in the East African region.

Tourists have been paying an equal amount of money for the single entry tourist visa for Uganda and the one for East Africa. However, the East Africa single tourist visa issued at the point of entry into the region allows tourists to travel to Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda on the same permit. The non-extendable visa is valid for only three months. The single entry tourist visa expires upon entering Uganda and the tourist is issued with a visitor’s permit valid for as long as a month.

The validity of the visitor’s permit can be extended for a period of six months depending on the reasons given by the tourist. While the Uganda’s single entry tourist visa can be used for tourism and business, the East African tourism permit is only issued for tourism. “Some of the people were ending up getting the East African tourist visa after all it has been at the same price with the Uganda’s single entry tourism visa,” Simunyu said, “But they didn’t know the East African visa cannot extended and you cannot do business with it,”.

The internal affairs ministry is currently receiving applications and issuing visas and work permits electronically. According to figures from the tourism ministry, over 1.2 million tourists came to Uganda in 2015. The Uganda Tourism Board has embarked on a campaign to promote Uganda’s tourism which is one of the top foreign exchange earners for the country.

Source — The New Vision.

Mr. Todd Haskell | Deputy Assistant Secretary of State – Bureau of Africa Affairs Visits Ugandan Community In Boston

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 06:57

Jeanette McCarthy the Mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts presents Mr. Todd Haskell the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with the Totems of Uganda coffee table art-book written by Taga Nuwagaba

By Ronnie Mayanja — On Monday July 18th I was privilege and honored through my contacts at the State Department to be invited to organize a Ugandan Diaspora Community Town-hall in Boston. Together with The Fireplace church that graciously accepted our request to host the event we embarked on the mobilization of our community leaders. However being a working day we faced some huddles of confirming attendance.  However I was glad that when I reached out to the Mayor of Waltham Jeannette McCarthy she committed to attending the town-hall and also agreed to receive the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs at the Department of State – Mr. Todd Haskell.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State – Bureau of African Affairs Mr. Todd Haskell makes his opening statement.

Of-course given Waltham’s importance having been described by the Boston Globe article from a few years ago as “Little Kampala”, due to the large number of Ugandans that are resident in Waltham town – Mayor McCarthy used the moment to take us through the history of this great town as the birthplace of the labor movement and a major contributor of the American industrial revolution. In her opening remarks Mayor McCarthy revisited this past taking us through the history of how in 1813, back in Boston, a businessman by the names of Francis Cabot Lowell and several partners formed the Boston Manufacturing Company.

The Mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts – Jeanette McCarthy makes her welcome remarks.

The company built a tall brick mill building next to the Charles River in Waltham, Massachusetts, incorporating various mechanization technologies to convert raw cotton into cloth. The Waltham mill integrated the chain of tasks under a single roof, later inaugurating what would become the American factory system of the nineteenth century.  After that brief history lesson Mayor McCarthy then encouraged those Ugandans present to join the city council as a way to effect change in their community and the town they now call home. She said it was now time for those in the community to institute change at local, State and Federal levels of government.

Another notable speaker prior to Mr. Todd Haskell’s conversation was Mr. Martin Byakuleka a pro-democracy activist whose speech centered on issues of governance and freedom. In summary he spoke for the need to look to the primary change agents that can deliver democratization for Ugandans within the country, by looking to the Diaspora with the support of development partners. “Today in Uganda, the would be primary actors are intimidated through repression and are suffocated – they can no longer perform their primary role of democratic change; that role has now shifted to the Diaspora and development partners”  — he noted. On his part Mr. Tendo Kaluma an IT consultant also called upon the Deputy Assistant Secretary to help put pressure on the government to improve its human rights record and end the treatment of Ugandans as subjects rather than citizens.

Mr. Tendo Kaluma – IT Consultant during the Q&A in Waltham.

As the strongest opposition constituency in North America it did not take long for some to voice their disappointment with the February 2016 polls that were marred with irregularities and the continued Ugandan Police brutality meted at opposition politicians.  Although the meeting was non political it was clear that simmering concerns were largely political something the Deputy Secretary acknowledged during his remarks.

Event coordinator — Ronnie Mayanja

Following a vibrant Q&A session it was then time for the Waltham Mayor to invite the chief guest — The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State who was in Massachusetts on Government business had earlier addressed the African Diaspora. He was quick to recognize Uganda as a partner in the fight against terrorism but noted that they as a government were concerned about the lack of a level political playing field in the country. He reminded us that the US Government has spoken out on the various occasions regarding the arrest of opposition candidates and noted that during the swearing in ceremony US diplomats had chosen to walkout in protest after the appearance of President Omar Bashir.

He however noted that the US Government values the long term relationship it has enjoyed with the people of Uganda and reiterated that the US Government assistance through programs like the USAID and AGOA would continue. He also recognized Uganda Government economic policies that have allowed the economy to grow over the past 30 years as good thing for Uganda.   Mr. Haskell spoke about the Africa Young Leaders Initiative – YALI Program as one of the tools the Obama administration has been employing educate and train leaders in Uganda. The YALI Network provides virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces to equip young African leaders with the skills and connections they need to foster change in their communities and their countries – said Mr. Haskell.

As Deputy Assistant secretary he also addressed a series of questions ranging from corrupt regimes in Africa and what they US Government was doing to limit or impose travel bans on those responsible for this abuse, Human-rights violations across the country also came into focus, the ongoing conflict in the Sudan, Uganda’s peace mission to Somalia and the search for Kony in the CAR. The rigorous immigrant and visitors visa process that sees more denials than approvals.

Mr. Henry Ndawula – Gwanga Mujje Boston during the Q&A

Mr. Haskell did well trying to explain the US visa processes and some of the challenges faced by consular officers during visa interviews. He encouraged those Ugandan American citizens aggrieved by the system both at home and here to seek redress through their Senators and Congressmen as the best way to effect change since he was a public officer. Overall the town-hall was a good start to a conversation that will help push the Uganda Diaspora interests and agenda at the Bureau for Africa Affairs.

Pastor Godfrey Owori of Fire Place Church together with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

Special thanks to all the Boston religious and community leadership that made the time and effort to attend. We especially thank the Mayor of Waltham – Jeanette McCathy, The Bureau of Africa Affairs for this opportunity, Pastor Godfrey Owori and the entire leadership at The Fireplace Church for hosting the event, Karibu Restaurant for the coffee and welcome accorded the Deputy Assistant Secretary on his visit to Waltham, Massachusetts. The meeting attended by about 60 youth, women and religious leaders was not open to the public and was the first in a series meant to engage the community.

Brief Biography — Todd Haskell became the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs in August 2015. Previously, he was the Africa Bureau’s Director of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, directing the deployment of public diplomacy personnel and resources at 48 U.S. embassies and consulates in Sub-Saharan Africa. In that position, he worked with posts in the field and agencies in Washington to implement the first Mandela Washington Fellowship, the signature program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)

New Film | Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” featuring new footage and sound bites from David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o – Release Date 23rd September!

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 05:34

Cast: David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Madina Nalwanga

Director: Mira Nair                       

Screenplay by: William Wheeler  

Producers: Lydia Dean Pilcher, John Carls

Executive Producers: Will Weiske, Troy Buder

For Immediate Release to The Ugandan Diaspora Audience — “Queen of Katwe” is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.

Directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler, “Queen of Katwe” is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, p.g.a. and John Carls, p.g.a. with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo, Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.

For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in impoverished Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Nyong’o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated.

Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed.

As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.

Here is brief description of the movie:

“Queen of Katwe” is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Queen Of Katwe opens in limited release on September 23, going wide September 30, 2016.

DISNEY’S QUEEN OF KATWE

Genre: Drama 

Rating: PG

U.S. Release date: September 23, 2016

Running time:  TBD

Source — This Press Release has been provided specifically for the Ugandan Diaspora News Audience.

Death Announcement | Ugandan Community In Houston Has Lost Geoffrey Opolot To Cancer

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 04:48

Houston Ugandan Community
Death: 15th July 2016

Cause of Death: Lung Cancer.
Geoffrey Opolot came to the US 16 years ago as a student as Blinn College in Bryan Texas and has since lived and worked within this community. In April 2016 he was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Cancer and underwent chemotherapy with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bryan Texas. He underwent the full treatment cycle and was slated to begin treatment with MD Anderson but ended up in CCU before the treatment dates.

He passed on Friday 15th July and the family is trying to make arrangements to repatriate his body back to Uganda for burial at his ancestral Home in Amuria Katakwi Uganda.

The family has setup a GoFundMe page on Facebook for the Late Geoffrey Opolot, the deceased’s Mom and Son are currently in College Station and can be contacted through Mr. Robert Wanok 1.979.304.0320.

Please forward at your convenience. Daniel Jombwe, Houston

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