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PACEID roots for Ugandan exports in Chicago- USA

The Africa Global Chamber of Commerce in Chicago in the state of Illinois in partnership with the Uganda Exports Advisory Committee (PACEID) on Friday hosted over 40 African American businesses in a drive to find buyers of Uganda’s agricultural and mineral products and attract investment in Uganda’s food value chains. The meeting which was attended by bankers, investment and finance, pharmaceutical firms, hospitality companies, leaders of the city of Chicago, representatives of the Illinois House of Representatives, faith leaders in the black community, and business people from the state of Detroit, was organized by Dr. Olivier Kamanzi, Uganda’s trade representative in the USA. Ugandan diaspora led by the former President of the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) Ms. Henrietta Wamala Nairuba attended the meeting along with other Ugandans.

Speaking at the event on Friday evening, the chairman of PACEID, Odrek Rwabwogo gave the history of the relationship between the USA and Uganda in trade, said “Every business or country can compete on multiple fronts based on its resources and products but Uganda has a deeper point of difference it offers the world”. This he said, “is the uniqueness of her centrality on the African market in both geography and free enterprise, market openness, skilled human resource easy to train for high-value production and the availability of raw materials to drive high growth industries such as semi-conductor chip making, electric vehicles and the emerging USD200bn health foods industry in the USA”.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo addressing African American business community in Chicago

Rwabwogo added, “We have had good leadership very much underestimated yet highly effective like your own Abraham Lincoln who saved your country from the curse of slavery and kept your union in 1864. Uganda’s current leadership has been so pivotal in shaping a stable and growing society in our region yet often misunderstood”. He gave an account of Uganda’s history praising President Yoweri Museveni and calling him ‘the Abraham Lincoln of Uganda who helped our country restore a sense of dignity and stability that we never had since 1962”.

President Yoweri Museveni attended the first trade and investment summit of the USA and Uganda in December 2022 in Chicago. Uganda’s coffee, vanilla, leather, fruits and banana flour companies exhibited at the event and took orders for supplies to the retail outlets in the Chicago area. PACEID with a target of USD6bn in fresh revenues in exports has been opening markets, setting food safety standards, and working on infrastructure along with efforts to provide low-cost funding for exporting firms. PACEID plans to open a trade hub with the Ugandan diaspora in the city of Chicago.

Dr. Kamanzi told the gathering, “I grew up in Switzerland and I had never been to Uganda till a year ago and I was blown off by the immense opportunity, the green of the country, its freshness and tastiness of the fruits, its game parks and how welcoming the people are. I think American companies can use Uganda as a base not just to process and export good agricultural products but also get higher returns in investment more than any parts of the world”.

Dr. Kamanzi, who is organizing the first Pan African trade, exports, culture and investment summit in Kampala in June this year, invited African American entrepreneurs like Mr. Robert Blackwell who is a manufacturer of table tennis equipment, Ms. Patricia Hanes of the Chicago Supplier Development Council,  Mr. Larry Ivory, President of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce,  Mr. Ousman Conteh, Vice President of the Chicago Hotels Association, Mr. Rifet Durmick Vice President of the BMO Bank and many others to plan their journey to Kampala and “see for yourselves the opportunity in Uganda”.

Uganda’s Trade Representative in Chicago, Dr. Olivier Kamanzi

Mr. Blackwell, a leading African American entrepreneur in Chicago and a friend of former President Barack Obama, later held a private meeting with Odrek Rwabwogo and called for greater connection between Africa and African Americans. He said, “Africa has not taken seriously the bonds of friendship and relations between the continent and their kin in the USA as partners in enterprise development and economic growth”. He added that “corporations in India and China have done a good job connecting their people to the diaspora in the USA and Africa needs to take a cue”

The Commissioner of the Board of Cook County, one of the largest counties in the USA with a budget of over USD6.9bn, Ms. Donna Miller, spoke of the need for a stronger trade and cultural relationship between Uganda and the state of Illinois. The Mayor of the City of Chicago who was represented by Aldermans William Hall and David Moore called for an education exchange program between Uganda and the city of Chicago.

The meeting was also attended by Cody Lorance, one of Uganda’s trade representatives in the USA who spoke about the Endiro Coffee experience trading in the USA in specialty coffees at a consumer level. Endiro has a coffee outlet in the city of Aurora, an hour’s drive north of Chicago city. The PACEID team drove to the city of Aurora on Saturday to gain a better understanding of the coffee and other products retailing needs. The PACEID team will be in Washington DC this week to follow through on trade commitments between Uganda and the USA and hold a conference at the national press club.

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PACEID roots for market entry of Ugandan products into China

By Victor Musiimenta

In Guangzhou 

A nine person Uganda trade and exports delegation led by Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), on Friday April 26th, 2024, rallied several Chinese agro-industrial companies that are product off-takers and investors in Guangzhou, Guangdong province of China, to focus on Uganda as a source of good agricultural products. 

The meeting which was attended by over 80 product buyers, investors in agriculture, mining, electronics, logistics and education services was held at the Oriental Resort Hotel just outside Shenzhen city. Rwabwogo praised the leadership of China since 1949 for providing a good example to developing countries on how to restore a nation, make it rich and strong saying, “city of Shenzhen which began experimentation with the Free zones export idea in the 1990s has led China’s economic resurgence and growth in the last 40 years”. The event was co-hosted by the Institute of African studies of the Guangdong university of foreign studies and CN light technologies, manufacturers of LED screens, computers, electronics and household goods. The event coincided with the annual Canton trade fair in China which takes place from April in the city of Shenzhen.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo in China

Speaking at the event, Prof. Liu Jisen, head of the Institute of African studies challenged Ugandan producers to ensure sustainability of supplies they promise to China. “We are working with importation of beef from Zambia. Why would we not try Ugandan beef? It is because we are not sure that even when you fulfill standards required in China, you will sustain the import demand here. China demands more food products and your consistency will be an issue if you do not plan ahead” he said. Prof. Liu asked how many products entry protocols Uganda has signed with China and requested to sign an understanding with the Ministry of Education’s Department of Industrial Training (DIT) in order to improve skills for Ugandan exporters. Uganda has Quota free duty-free product entry into China for more than 90 percent of her agricultural products but few protocols on standards and compliance measures on food safety have been signed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and fisheries.

China which exports more than USD1.3bn annually to Uganda has made a case for Uganda’s avocados, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, Sesame, coffee, dried chili peppers, macadamia, castor oil and seeds, sorghum, cocoa and many more products but few Ugandan firms have been able to supply them. Uganda last year sold less than USD100m to China. The airport of Baiyun in Guangzhou handles more than 26million passengers and over 1.8million tones annually. The city and port of Guangzhou is one of the top ten import centers for China. Rwabwogo who presented the history of the trade relations with Asia from the year 1455 with Africa and the current changes Government of Uganda through PACEID has instituted to drive the target of USD6bn, assured the buyers of Uganda’s capacity to use export credit funding for firms that get orders. 

He said “we are improving the phytosanitary standards for our food products, modernizing our laws and regulations and their enforcement and also establishing trade representation in key markets. These are some of the new measures President Yoweri Museveni is applying to remove doubts from buyers of our food”. He added, “we are creating critical awareness about Uganda as a good source of products because of the reforms we are making in infrastructure such as energy, roads and water to reduce production costs for firms and improve the business environment”. Uganda has lately experienced a surge in production of commodities such as coffee, dairy and beverages and Government is investing approximately USD400m annually in Parish development model (PDM) to spur more household production. PACIED aims at connecting markets to the Uganda makes and encourages young people to use new technological channels to trade in the external markets being opened”. PACEID which works as a catalyst for ministries and departments of government that deal with exports and manufacturing, is building export product consortiums at regional level in order to make it easier for aggregators, transporters, financiers and investors in Agri value addition to source easier from Uganda.

The Uganda Consul General to Guangzhou, Dr. Judith Nsababeera who attended the PACEID buyer-seller summit, said, “We are building our own headquarters here for the embassy and we will work with PACEID to have an information centre and Trade Hub for Uganda products”. Uganda sells through Hong Kong small volumes of meat products including Fish maws, casein (ingredient of milk), coffee and grains such as simsim and more. The meeting which was attended by packaging, mining and electrical companies also had firms such as the Guangdong import and export company, wire and cable manufactures, Tourism related firms led by Kenten Structures Limited that specializes in large exhibitions, logistics and many others. 

Earlier in the day, the Ugandan delegation met the provincial government officials of Guangdong and visited CN lights company, meeting with senior officials of the firm. The delegation was conducted around the manufacturing facility which makes LED lights and solar panels. The company is investing more than USD30m in the next five years in an assembly and production plant for tablet computers, solar lights and other household appliances in Uganda. CN light which began in 1992, is listed on the stock exchange in Shanghai. It is led by Mr. Watson Chai and Mr. Dai Jen Wei. It has subsidiaries in production of textiles and fabrics, electronics, data security and computing. The company signed a memorandum of Understanding with PACEID to pursue the search for off takers of Ugandan products and investors in mining and agriculture.

The PACEID team which includes Ambassador Kiema Kilonzo consultant on regional trade and officials from NITA, will today, Saturday visit Foshan region to inspect computer production plants, textile companies and meet retailers of agricultural products.

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PACEID Urges Private Sector to Participate in the Kampala City Marathon to Debut in December 2024

At a press briefing this morning, Monday, April 29, 2024 at the Uganda Media Centre, Matthew Bagonza, the head of the Secretariat at the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), urged the private sector, particularly those in the tourism industry, to participate in the upcoming first edition of the Kampala City Marathon scheduled for December 2024.

The announcement was made by the Minister of State for Education and Sports, Hon. Peter Ogwang. The Kampala City Marathon is an initiative aimed at boosting tourism and investment in Uganda.

The Kampala City Marathon is being organized by the government through the Ministry of Education and Sports and PACEID in conjunction with the private sector to profile Uganda’s socio-cultural and economic endowment. The marathon will also aim to promote the health of the population- through engagement in physical activity as a lifestyle to prevent non-communicable diseases.

Minister of State for education and Sports, Hon. Peter Ogwang

In his remarks, Hon. Peter Ogwang revealed that the marathon is a ten-year project to brand Kampala City and Uganda as a preferred tourist destination as well as a strategy to generate revenue for the country.

“The Kampala City Marathon is poised to be one of the top marathon races in Africa that will be key in helping our country attract tens of thousands of visitors to experience the best of the Ugandan spirit and hospitality. It will also offer us an opportunity to showcase our stellar long-distance running tradition and of course, celebrate the beauty and diversity that makes Uganda truly unique. We also have the added benefit of doing this while keeping our people fit and thus reducing the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases.”

Hon. Ogwang also thanked President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who is passionate about physical activity, for fully funding this first-ever edition of the Kampala City Marathon. “We thank His Excellency the President for his support and commitment to the physical well-being of Ugandans”.

The Kampala City Marathon will have four major races; 42.195km, 29.097km, 10km, and 5km. These events are expected to start and finish at the Mandela National Stadium and will be open to elite and regular local and foreign runners/joggers. The vision is to involve over 65, 0000 participants from all over the world in the 10 years.

Matthew Bagonza, PACEID Head of Secretariat
Matthew Bagonza, PACEID Head of Secretariat

Bagonza, speaking at the briefing, emphasized the importance of the private sector’s involvement in the success of the Kampala City Marathon. “We are excited to be launching the first Kampala City Marathon that will debut in December 2024, and we are calling on the private sector, especially those in the tourism industry, to come on board and be part of this exciting event”.

PACEID under the leadership of Odrek Rwabwogo is working with several government departments to help drive up Uganda’s export earnings through a multi-pronged approach, to increase export earnings to the country by more than 6 billion USD in the short to medium term and the Kampala City Marathon is one of such avenues.

Robert Verbeeck from Golazo will provide his vast experience in organizing international marathons

The idea is supported by the Commonwealth Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Sport, Enterprise and Development who is also the former Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture, Amina Mohamed. Among her numerous wins are the revamped and very successful Kenya Safari Rally and the Nairobi City Marathon.

Former Cabinet Secretary Amina and her compatriot Ambassador Julius Kiema Kilonzo will be working with PACEID to help realize this dream. They will be supported by the Golazo team, a Belgian event management company with vast experience in organizing international marathons all over the world like; in Berlin, Nairobi, Rotterdam, and Brussels among others.

Robert Verbeeck from Golazo expressed confidence that the Kampala City Marathon will become a premier sporting event in the region, and also encouraged the private sector to get involved to make this a success.

The National Council of Sports and Uganda Athletics Federation are also involved in the organization to ensure that the marathon becomes a success.

The first edition of the Kampala City Marathon is scheduled to take place on the first weekend of December 2024, and organizers are expecting a strong turnout from both local and international participants.

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Odrek Rwabwogo: Eulogy for the late Mzee Ernest Kakwaano

By Odrek Rwabwogo

Chairperson, Exports & Industrial Advisory Committee.

The passing on of Mzee Ernest Kakwaano, 80, on Easter Sunday reminded us again of the sunset of a generation that stood for Uganda when few would; and even more poignantly, how much needs to be done to keep their example of humanness and patriotism alive as our country’s economy and politics continue to shift back and forth. The English language has no verb for the common adjective we use in everyday speech – the word ‘resilient’. If it had, I would perhaps use the verb ‘resele’ to describe this generation that we are fast losing!

Kakwaano became my friend in 1994, a couple of years after he left the Coffee Marketing Board (CMB) back into the private sector. The private sector is where he had horned his skills as an entrepreneur in Kenya in the 1970s, running a Japanese motor vehicle franchise in Nairobi. When we met, he had been dropped from CMB, removed from the property he occupied with his family, and shoved out of the limelight. It was the days of liberalization of the economy, and the end of marketing boards for commodities. It was also the peak of the IMF/World Bank Structural adjustment programs that emphasized getting the government out of social services in return for technical and financial support from the West.

Why I am reminded of this word ‘resilience’, for which I prefer the verb ‘resele’ if it ever appeared in the English lexicon, is that Kakwaano and a number of people like him, who would have had a sense of entitlement for the work they did in exile for the Movement such as saving lives, publicity, treating the wounded, rescuing families of those being persecuted, hiding rebel fighters in transit, etc.; they remained resilient and humble in the face of what often looked humiliating treatment. Kakwaano would have had a ‘legitimate right’ of sorts given he used his car business along with Alice, his wife’s time, to fund some of the NRM external wing activities. He, along with others, genuinely believed he should have been ‘perennially rewarded’ than many newcomers into the system. And in Kakwaano’s calm demeanor, through it all, lies the answer to some of today’s NRM problems. In Kakwaano’s death and his having remained silent about some of his misgivings, we understand the irony of growth and the need to keep certain principles alive. Growth brings change and often that very change can sweep us away. We are called to remain principled as leaders.

When the Movement was still small, the original organ of the National Resistance Council (NRC) of 38 people and even the expanded one in 1989, there were two principles that many of us admired then, when we were in high school. One was the idea of constructive criticism which stipulated that one could contend against the reigning view with good facts, and present a compelling case against a leading position, all in the confines of comradeship, without fear of being misunderstood or losing their job. Constructive criticism saved the young organization from corrupt elements and liars within as they were exposed internally. This method also gave meaning and significance to the value of the Movement’s ideology even to those who were opposed to it at the time. This is why the Movement largely won over people with the power of argument not money or use of intimidation and brute force.

The second idea was collective decision-making by consensus without subjecting key decisions to a vote. A vote would be the last resort if something was deeply controversial and endlessly divisive with a possibility that the public could misconstrue it. That is how many of us young then supported the arrest of Col. Kiiza Besigye, Maj. Gen. David Ssejusa, Gen. Henry Tumukunde, and many other army officers when they dabbled in politics. We understood well that the 1966 crisis that introduced Idi Amin into Uganda’s politics was the genesis of much trouble the country went through. That kind of consensus was an underlying generally accepted way to approach controversial public issues so that our country could heal from the past. And even when consensus failed and a vote was taken, there would be steps taken to heal the side that would have lost the argument and bring them back. The main idea was to convince people to see the correctness of a particular line of thinking and not political posturing. Those who opposed a particular stand in a meeting would be given all the time to speak plainly without fear and if they didn’t convince the majority, they (the minority) would never step out of the room and speak ill of what had been collectively decided on.

These two tools in our work methods were slowly abandoned after 2001 and even worse after 2005 with the pressure to return to party politics. To expand our support base, we dropped or perhaps I could say, watered down, the key values that partly gave us the initial support from intellectuals, workers, and peasants. These groups had been the bulwark of defense against infiltration. The reason the death of Kakwaano reminds me of all this is that the ones who loved the Movement most when these principles were shaken, decided to go silent in respect of the founding principles. The newcomers with limited teaching and awareness, took over and often confused leadership with the titles and positions they came to occupy. They weren’t schooled in these principles and were in a hurry to get to the top. They didn’t understand that leadership is not a job. It is having a burden on how to move society forward. In the watering down of some of these principles and more, we now see results in the quality and depth of leadership in the public sector. Yes, Expansion is good but principles are greater at keeping that expansion within a prescribed growth trajectory that retains values for an organization’s future. If you sacrifice principles at the expense of growth, an organization will struggle to cope with changes in the economy, demographics, and the much-needed thinking on how to organize for tomorrow. I believe that we can remain democratic and still enforce discipline and a standard of leadership for the young people who have joined the Movement over the years.

While I look back reminiscing over the old days, I recognize that every season has its good side and a bad one. There is no neutrality in life. I see that we will not be able to return to the past. We have to build afresh with humility, which is what Mzee Kakwaano’s example reminds us all. In 1994 when I took an evening job at his industrial graphics company, I understood him as a man of few words but a large warm heart. We would work with him on stories to very late in the night for a newspaper he founded called, the Market Place. He would edit the paper with us before it went to press. At about 1 am, he would take us out for a drink and a warm meal in the small corner restaurants of Entebbe town.

There I would pester him with questions about his life, family, work, and how he ended up in exile, and what motivated him as a businessman after losing a job in government. He was always open and we remained friends till he passed on.

While I am saddened by the fact of my not being able to see him on his deathbed given the heavy pressures now placed on our days at work, I have no sense of guilt or shame with him. This is because last year, he made it to a coveted list of mentorship awards that President Museveni gives to those in advanced age who have served our country well. We were able to speak about him among his friends in his hearing and he got to know us younger people and how much we recognize his work for the Movement and the country. On that February day at Sheraton last year, I unburdened myself of any guilty feelings about these old people by saying thank you to them publicly. In one year, three have left us and gone in peace. They include Honorables Henry Kyemba and Cecila Ogwal, now joined by Ernest Kakwaano. They were all on the honor roll for the year 2023.

God keep your soul in peace Mzee Kakwaano.

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Hon. Tagesse Chaffo Dullo, Speaker of the House of Peoples Representatives

MENTORSHIP 2024: Hon. Tagesse Chaffo Dullo’s full keynote speech

Your Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni;

Excellencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Gyebale Ko

Greetings,

First of all, allow me, Your Excellency, to extend my sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to the people and government of Uganda for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to me and My delegation since our arrival to Uganda, the pearl of Africa. I would particularly seize this opportunity to appreciate Honorable Anita Annet Among, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, for welcoming me from the moment I disembarked from the plane.

Let me begin by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to my brother, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, and his government for establishing a national platform to recognize public servants who served their country with integrity and courage that future generations of this great country will undoubtedly look up to as modeling a character. We must acknowledge African role models and create avenues for them to shine, inspiring African youth and beyond.

We must empower and pave the way for African youth to assume their rightful positions through the right mentorship and guidance. As we strive for Economic growth, innovation, peace, and stability, we must not just include young African leaders but also actively engage and empower them. Their unique perspectives and talents can significantly contribute to these vital goals of our well-being. We must also acknowledge their outstanding achievements publicly on such a decorated platform.

I know that the Right Honorable Dr. Jacob Oulanyah is a brilliant and ambitious young African who has dedicated himself to improving his nation and Africa. I would also like to congratulate the family of the late awardee for leading by example. Regrettably, he could not accept this honor in person and spend more time with his loved ones while serving his beloved country.

But his loved ones, those who survive him, are honored by his services, and I believe they will carry on his legacy. Seeing Hon. Andrew Oulanyah, his son, following his father’s example filled me with immense pleasure. This is a testament to his father’s leadership and values passed on to the next generation, who deserve recognition.

Your Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni;

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Such recognition platforms spearheaded by His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, also the storehouse of Wisdom of Africa, empower African youth to learn from relatable role models to demonstrate the distinctiveness of African heritage, values, and societal fabric. Africa’s vast and diverse heritage, shaped by thousands of years of history, traditions, and practices, has significantly influenced agricultural, medical, and architectural industries worldwide.

This legacy displays the innovative thinking and inventiveness of its citizens. The great achievers have had. The current African generation needs to get the great lessons from our ancestors and bring Africa to its rightful position in the world. With the current global situation, young African leaders must adopt a unique and practical approach to lead their communities to a brighter future.

In order to achieve success, we must strive for excellence by setting a grand vision and putting in the necessary effort with impeccable time management Skills. Let us aim high and work diligently to reach our vision. I can assure you with the right eye, provision comes. My message today for African Youths is to celebrate and honor our distinctive African values, no matter what challenges come our way. Let us follow in the footsteps of Ugandans who are making every effort to preserve these values with utmost dedication. Let us not forget that our values define our very being and form the foundation of our cultural heritage.

They are the essence of our identity, and we must honor them by passing them on to the next generation. With pride and reverence, let us hold our values close, for they are the key to our future. It is high time to trust in our abilities to solve African Issues. We know what goes wrong with us better than anyone else, so why should we invite foreign interference? Let us embrace African solutions for African problems and take control of our destiny. By implementing this concept in Ethiopia, we overcame challenges and reap the benefits. Similarly, having 60 percent of the population without access to electricity is a problem.

To address this problem, we envision building a magnificent Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dame, and to make it a reality, we invested 4.7 Billion USD from our coffers. It wasn’t an easy feat- we encountered numerous challenges, including accessing international organizations’ finances. However, we persevered and overcame the issue of finance coordinating our population. Now, we are proud to say that we are exporting electric power to our neighboring countries as a testament to the success of our efforts. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the only Peace Prize winner among African leaders, is a young leader like you. He got the prize for his capacity to bring African solutions to African Problems. Problems are meant to be solved, and instead of being discouraged by difficulties, we should embrace them as opportunities. We have several tangible African testimonies that can inspire the present youths. As our world-class long-time athletic legend Haile Genresilassie said, “It’s possible. I repeat it: it is possible.

Your Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni;

Excellencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a known fact that we Africans are a continent that is a cradle of civilization, from Ethiopia’s monolithic churches of Lalibela to Uganda’s Kasubi tombs, from Kushite Egypt’s and Sudanese pyramids to Great Zimbabwe ruins, from Ashanti to Timbuktu, every one of which speaks to our magnificent past. This demonstrates Africa’s significant contributions to world civilization in critical areas such as science, technology, and education, all of which our young should learn from.

To unify Africa, the founding fathers had first to break free of colonialism. They had to pay the price for winning a long and difficult battle against exploitation. The battle of Adwa dealt a crushing blow to colonialism and became an emblem of hope for black people in Africa and around the world. In gold letters, history chronicles the names of our ancestors who fought to transition the continent from colonialism to independence and union. Their anti-colonial souls sang to the tune of Pan-Africanism. The founding forefather envisioned a united continent adorned with solidarity, where generations lived their passions to the fullest and worked for the betterment of their children while bound by sovereignty and cooperated.

The Adwa of our time, a battle we must win, is to overcome the bleak legacy of colonialism and neocolonial practices by steering a new version of Pan-Africanism to free Africa from the shackles of underdevelopment. Governments should circumvent the neocolonial system and adequately address the continent’s ongoing challenges of economic reliance, corruption, and stagnant development. We must work together to capitalize on Africa’s immense natural and human resources to benefit her children.

It is our collective responsibility to leave a better Africa for the next generation through the execution of the following fundamental measures:

Your Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni;

Excellencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First comes achieving tangible prosperity by establishing a solid national and continental identity, promoting the rule of law, committing to a peaceful transition of power, establishing competent administration, and prioritizing growth.

They are cultivating industrious and inward-looking youth with indigenous ideals such as Medmer/synergy so that they are conscious of their communities, countries, and continents, as well as the strength and resources they have to succeed in a changing world. Today’s Leaders are expected to demonstrate Pan-Africanism and educate our youth that we flourish in unity and collaboration.

Targeting Universal Education is one technique for creating a knowledgeable generation. Restoring religious institutions, schools, and media is crucial for the holistic development of our youth. Our students should benefit from technology literacy; thus, broadening their experience in this area is vital.

Second, it is vital to develop open economies and domestic asset bases while encouraging trade and commerce. We must continue to deepen regional integration, such as expediting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and increasing infrastructural connectivity among our countries to connect communities, enhance trade, and enable economic integration. Building roads and expanding rail networks, communication networks, and pipes to fulfill the rising need for clean water and energy is a critical step toward realizing the benefits of regional and continental integration. Import substitution, industrialization, and strengthening regional trade ties are also essential.

Third, we strive to realize the Africa we want by meeting Agenda 2063 milestones and other continental and global strategic frameworks. While we appreciate and acknowledge our accomplishments thus far, we must guarantee that we remain on track for the future. In this way, our struggle against neocolonial systems will be on the right track.

Fourth, sustaining peace and stability is critical to economic and social progress. We must use more innovative and indigenous approaches to dispute resolution that align with our maxim “African solutions to African challenges.” In today’s post-fact circumstances, young people need to be able to recognize legitimate and advantageous information. This empowers our young people to promote peace and stability by addressing problems and grievances through appropriate channels.

The National Leadership/Mentorship Award is an excellent reminder to leaders and public servants of their responsibilities. Today’s awardee has been dubbed a “man of three principles” because he made decisions by asking the three questions: “Is it okay with God? Is it okay with the law; will I sleep well if I do that?” He wanted his children to be proud of “using his name and was focused on doing good, winning fairly, and eating only his share.” The Ethiopian proverb “ስም ከመቃብር በላይ ይውላል” translates to “reputations outlive graves.” This award demonstrates that the late Right Honorable Dr. Jacob traveled the path of integrity until the end, which is the kind of character to model for youth.

Public servants should exemplify such integrity by addressing injustice and unfairness, refraining from power abuse, and prioritizing the next generation. We consider ourselves a steward of a magnificent country and content, passing them down to future generations. Our civil service systems and government structures should allow for significant youth representation and co-creation of solutions, hence contributing to sustainability.

Your Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni;

Excellencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Being a public servant is an honor as it is a service to the nation and its people. Let us keep this in mind while we serve our nations and continent with dedication.

Congratulations again to the late Right Honorable Dr. Jacob’s loved ones on this outstanding award.

Thank you! Weebale

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Odrek Rwabwogo’s full speech at the 2024 National Mentorship Awards Luncheon

Mr. President

The visiting speaker of the House of People’s Representatives of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, the Honorable Tagesse Chaffo Dullo.

The elders who will be awarded today,

Cabinet Ministers

Members of Parliament,

Young people, who joined us at this year’s mentorship luncheon

I thank you very much Mr. President for allowing to host this luncheon and to award the crop of old people we chose for 2024. Last year, you were kind enough to send us the retired PM Hon. Amama Mbabazi (who is here) to preside over the mentorship dinner at Sheraton.

I thank the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hon. Ahmed Abiy whom Your Excellency sent us to, for in turn sending us Speaker Tagesse to be our keynote speaker today.

Some of the yardstick we use to arrive at cohorts to award annually include the following traits:

  1. The years of service a person has put into work for Uganda,
  2. The quality of decisions they made when they had authority,
  3. The depth, intensity, and character of the person,
  4. The kind of changes or reforms they instituted
  5. The impact they have even in retirement

As you might notice, the categories we choose cut across science and technology, art and culture, enterprise and manufacturing, politics and religion, and many other areas of life. Uganda has many good people who have laid foundations for our country but few are known and even fewer are celebrated. I got to know this when we began with nominations last year that ran into 60 + people yet we wanted few. We were not sure who to pick and who to leave out.

That gave me hope to know there are many people out there who build in silence but in the end, our country keeps united, stable, and growing.

To mentor is to guide; to illuminate a path for a young person by an elder, a sort of apprenticeship in life by the older to the young. Often it can be reversed given where one has knowledge and the young can mentor the old too. Mentorship is a good classroom for young people in leadership but sadly we haven’t been deliberate at it. We have not been intentional in creating seedbeds of leaders to guide institutions and the country in a world so competitive and set against Africa.  I woke up to this reality years back when I would be teaching and young people ask questions that show they are unhinged from the reality of what it takes to build a home, a business, an institution, or a country. Many come into leadership without preparation and they often confuse leadership with positions and titles.

There are about four mental architectures I get from young people especially because of the changes wrought by the internet and social media.

The first category is Avoidance. Young people severely reduce quality relationships for fear of opening up to causes that are bigger than them. They do not want to be hurt; they pretend all is well using clean-cut social media images of themselves; they appear strong on the outside but pretty weak inside; they do not want to be vulnerable by consulting elders on what they don’t know. They assume they know it all. In the end, they do not fulfill their purpose, and their potential remains underutilized. This category I meet regularly and they are full of criticism and less knowledgeable on what to do.

The second category is those who suffer from what psychologists call Deprivation. These were raised by self-centered caregivers who showed them that their needs do not matter. They develop an inner critic that tells them, ‘You don’t matter to the world, you are on your own’. These youth often have unworthy feelings and they struggle to fit in. This category is easily abused by peers and led into alcohol or drugs because deep in their hearts they have a yearning to fit in.

The third category is the ones we call overreactive youth. Often, they were abused when they were young and threatened by circumstances. Those thoughts stayed with them through life. They see no neutrality in anything. Everything that doesn’t take their view is menacing and should be fought!

The world to them is a dangerous place and there should be no compromises. They overreact and lash out at small inconveniences. They don’t want to wait. They are impatient and confuse time with seasons. (Cronos versus Kairos). These miss the calling on their lives and rush into instant gratification and kill their tomorrow.

The fourth category I meet is passive aggressors. This group has repressed anger over the years, probably against parents or their caregivers and peers. They sidestep open communication to avoid conflict and confrontation even when this confrontation might heal them of this anger. They have trouble dealing with negative emotions; they turn this passive aggression into a subtle power play. They manipulate others so that they can make them feel guilty and in return get their affection.

All the above categories need mentoring because these are the young people who will come into leadership with these emotional, social, and political deficits. These mental frames are the raw material a country has to produce leaders of tomorrow. It is the reason we use these mentorship sessions annually to create a bridge between the young and the old. A bridge is a good metaphorical example in life. It helps you cross to the other side so you can understand it better. If you keep this side of your river, you will never know that life has to be lived on both sides for a sense of maturity and leadership to emerge. These old people have crossed that bridge of life and returned and they are good examples to study from. Mentorship isn’t just verbal. It is also watching the actions and reading the thoughts of those ahead of you and discerning what to do for your time.

Take Mzee Kintu Musoke as an example. At age 14, he watched his uncle Simeoni Kintu, arrested in 1949 simply for asking to be allowed to go in his cotton farm. He saw a force of Turkana men imported by the British to quell the Katwe riots, descend on fellow Africans, and beat them badly. Kintu Musoke would join Ignatius Musaazi as a young boy to campaign for independence. When he got to India for his studies, he mobilized two other young men – Kirunda Kivejinja and Bidandi Ssali and; together they forged a bond that helped them deal with the politics of Uganda over the years, as a team. They remained committed to Uganda and each other’s ideas. Why don’t you as young people ask them the questions of life, parenting, ideology, and how to keep a country united even if there are political pressures from all corners, internal and external to not work together?

These values of commitment to something higher are partly why we remember Jacob Oulanyah too today. I thank his family for allowing us to use him as a point of connection to illuminate the path for young people and to celebrate the life of these old people when they can still hear and see us. Every time we celebrate the life of old people when they are alive, I feel a burden lifted off my shoulders, a sense of relief. This is because speeches at funerals aren’t helpful to the ones you would have told when they were alive so that they can know you value(d) their life.

Jacob Oulanyah and his first wife Jennifer, were my friends and I know they cared much about the quality of institutions for the country. They also had a deep sense of fairness and justice. Jacob in particular knew how to suspend judgment and hold two opposing opinions and still walk gingerly through life. He had a sense of commitment to what he chose to do. Commitment to something higher than self is what brings true meaning and significance to life. When you commit to something, you are not just making promises. You are re-ordering your life to fulfill this commitment. Jacob understood that choices mean depth and not superficiality and that each choice we make has costs.

For example, when he left one side of the political spectrum, he was not liked where he left. Some members of the group he joined were suspicious of him preferring to keep a distance. It is standing at half-way house and not knowing who to trust. He moved on nevertheless. He was also a peacemaker and without him in the Juba peace talks, perhaps, we would have missed the very compelling voice of some diaspora groups that didn’t understand the war in northern Uganda yet kept pushing for its continuation out of selfishness. He spoke plainly and convincingly when he took a stand on an issue. This is why we use his example this year as a connecting bridge between the young and the old.

Perhaps Jacob picked his reconciliation and forgiveness pathway through his suffering as a student and beyond – both mentally and physically. I know very much that those who suffer forgive most. The playwright Thornton Wilder in his short poem from the play, ‘The Angel That Troubled The Waters’, says “Without your wounds, where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve”.

I am glad we celebrate you, old people and remember Jacob on a day just before Good Friday. May the example of unity of generations we see today, mend our broken areas and keep us strong as a country.

Now to you, young people who came to witness this occasion, keep doing the right thing even if you are under pressure to digress, to join the crowd of wrongdoers in your offices, farms, or the private sector. Last night I was listening to a country singer called Johnny Cash, who died in 2003. Its words say, “No, I won’t back down, there is no easy way out, I will stand my ground, I won’t be turned around, because, I know what is right. I got just one life and, in a world, pushing me around, I will still stand my ground. You can stand me at the gates of hell but I won’t backdown”

I ask that you look at those who have done well by serving our county and learn from them. Don’t back down from doing the right thing.

And to our elders, it is in the sunset of our lives that we get tired and make mistakes. We ask you to remain a shining example to our young people to the end in your word and deed. It is in your good example that together with young people, we can create a RAFT to help us cross to a brighter future for all of us as a country and a continent.

Once again, I thank H.E. the President for allowing us to do this here and for gracing this event with his presence

Speaker Tagesse for being with us

Speaker Anita Among who came to the airport to receive our gest with us

The state house team that helped us with this work

PACEID team of young people

Thank you and the Lord God bless you all.

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Mentoring plays a vital role in nurturing individuals to achieve excellence- President Museveni 

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has emphasized the importance of understanding the story of nature, society, and the human race to provide accurate and effective mentorship.

Museveni revealed this on Thursday evening March 28, 2024, during a National Mentorship luncheon that he was hosting at State House-Entebbe to recognize the invaluable contributions of elderly and retired men and women who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of Uganda. These 16 esteemed individuals, recognized for their incredible achievements and long-standing service, were awarded for their immense role in shaping the country’s progress. The luncheon was also an opportunity to pay tribute to Jacob Oulanyah, the former Speaker of Parliament for his dedication and commitment to public service.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni addressing guests at the luncheon

The 2024 Mentorship luncheon ran under the theme, ‘Modeling the right behavior for the youth of Africa in the 21st Century” and was attended by high-ranking government officials, diplomats, and esteemed guests from various sectors.
“Having a deep understanding of the human race, its history, and evolution helps mentors comprehend the unique strengths, weaknesses, and potential of each mentee. This knowledge forms the foundation for providing personalized and impactful mentorship.” President Museveni noted during his speech.

He also urged guests to embrace science and technology in mitigating societal challenges. “To receive accurate guidance in mentorship, individuals must understand the role of humans as agents of societal change and the significance of science and technology in addressing societal challenges. I salute Odrek Rwabwogo and his team (Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development- PACEID) for recognizing senior citizens. If you don’t reward those who do well, then you are letting down society. I am happy Odrek Rwabwogo and his group have taken up this responsibility. Congratulations to all the awardees for their contributions and recognition of the late Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah.”

President Museveni with Mzee Christopher Gala, one of the awardees

The sixteen recipients of this year’s National Mentorship/Leadership Award were; Justice George W. Kanyeihamba, Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire, Hon. Kintu Musoke, Prof. Ezra Suruma, Amos Nzeyi, Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko, James Rwehabura Tumusiime, Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Mzee Christopher Gala, John Wycliffe Karazaarwe, Prof. Frederick Kayanja, Moses Matovu, Pastor Gary Skinner, Dr. Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare, and Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi.

John Wycliffe Karazaarwe with family receiving his award from President Museveni

Museveni welcomed and thanked Rt. Hon. Tagesse Chaffo Dullo, the Speaker of Ethiopia’s House of Peoples Representatives for gracing the occasion and accepting to deliver a keynote address at the National Mentorship Awards ceremony.

Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko receives her award, accompanied by Dr. Rev Florence Muranga and Dr. Eve-Kasirye Alemu

In his keynote speech, Hon. Tagesse extended his sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to the people and government of Uganda for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to me and his delegation upon arrival. He took the opportunity to appreciate R. Hon. Anita Annet Among, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, for welcoming him from the moment he disembarked from the plane.

“We must empower and pave the way for African youth to assume their rightful positions through the right mentorship and guidance. As we strive for Economic growth, innovation, peace, and stability, we must not just include young African leaders but also actively engage and empower them. Their unique perspectives and talents can significantly contribute to these vital goals of our well-being. We must also acknowledge their outstanding achievements publicly on such a decorated platform.”

Hon. Tagesse Chaffo Dullo, delivering his keynote speech at the National Mentorship luncheon at State House-Entebbe

“I would also like to congratulate the family of the late awardee (Jacob Oulanyah) for leading by example. Regrettably, he could not accept this honor in person and spend more time with his loved ones while serving his beloved country. But his loved ones, those who survive him, are honored by his services, and I believe they will carry on his legacy. Seeing Hon. Andrew Oulanyah, his son, following his father’s example fills me with immense pleasure. This is a testament to his father’s leadership and values passed on to the next generation, who deserve recognition.” Stated Hon. Tagesse.

Oderk Rwabwogo, the Senior Presidential Advisor Special Duties who doubles as the PACEID Chairman highlighted that mentorship extends beyond just words.

Odrek Rwabwogo with Vice President H.E Maj. Gen Jessica Alupo at the awards ceremony

“Mentorship involves observing and understanding individuals’ actions and thoughts to provide effective and meaningful guidance. This observation allows mentors to assess mentees’ strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, enabling them to tailor their guidance toward specific needs. Rather than simply imparting knowledge or advice verbally, mentors should actively engage with mentees’ experiences, encouraging growth and development through hands-on guidance.” he remarked.

Prof. Ezra Suruma, accompanied by his wife Specioza Suruma, receives his award from Vice President Jessica Alupo

“The National Mentorship Awards ceremony is to remind the young generation of the value of dignified and exemplary service by the older retired public servants, who exit Uganda’s public service to pave the way for the young ones,” Rwabwogo added while urging youths to strive to achieve a national collective ethic.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama prayed for the smooth running of the ceremony. He was one of the awardees. Besides him is Matthew Bagonza, Head of Secretariat-PACEID

Hon. Andrew Ojok Oulanyah, son of the late speaker, revealed that Jacob Oulanyah always wanted to do the right things, the right way and at the right time implying that he was committed to ethical behavior and always acted in the best interest of the people he served. “Our father was no doubt a mentor to many which aligns with today’s theme of ‘Modeling the eight behavior for the youth of Africa in the 21st Century’. Thank you, Your Excellency, for opening your doors to not only hosting this ceremony but also making sure so many young people are involved”.

Atim Karen Oulanyah (C), Hon. Andrew Ojok Oulanyah (L) and Harold Oulanyah (R) gave moving speeches about their late father, Jacob Oulanyah

Karen Atim Oulanyah, daughter of Jacob Oulanyah said, “Our father was a man who always strived for unity. We, as young aspiring leaders, have to strive for the same. Thank you all, it doesn’t go unappreciated. I hope we all immerse ourselves in my father’s values. Thank you, Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo for this initiative”.

Yubu Onyong (C) mobbed by Gen. Katumba Wamala (L) and Hon. Mmary Grace Mugasa

Yubu Onyong, one of the young people mentored by Jacob Oulanyah paid tribute by encouraging young people out there to emulate the late Speaker of Parliament. “A plan without action is just a gamble. The future of this country is dependent on the youth. And the youth need to be mentored. Let’s stick to the mentorship values that Jacob instilled in us. I would like the youth to encourage themselves that everything is possible.”

Brenda Ker, Jacob Oulanyah’s Press Secretary for many years remembered the late as a forgiving man and never vindictive. “What I learned from my boss (as we always called him) is to forgive, nothing you can ever do on this earth is worth it if you don’t forgive one another”.

H.E Etsegenet Bezabih Yimenu, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Uganda

Some of the guests included; Hon. Norbert Mao who revealed that Jacob Oulanyah mentored so many people and always surrounded himself with young people, H.E. Maj. Gen. Jessica Alupo, H.E Etsegent Bezabih Yimenu, Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi, Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama, Rt. Hon. Kasule Lumumba, Hon. Richard Todwong, Hon. Rose Namayanja, Hon. John Nasasira, a considerable number of legislators, family members, religious leaders, friends and well-wishers from all walks of life.

Belinda Amanya, speaker of the EACYC got the opportunity to address the audience.

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Museveni to host luncheon honoring legacy of late Jacob Oulanyah

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is set to host a luncheon to pay tribute to Jacob Oulanyah, the former Speaker of Parliament, for his dedication and commitment to public service. The event will double as a Mentorship awards ceremony for twenty (20) men and women who have diligently served and contributed to the development of Uganda in their respective fields.

This was revealed on Wednesday, March 20th, 2024 at a press briefing at the Kampala Serena Hotel organized by Odrek Rwabwogo, the Senior Presidential Advisor- Special Duties.  

Friends and relatives of former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah in a group photo after the press briefing

At the event themed, ‘Modeling the right behaviour for the youth of Africa in the 21st century’, Rwabwogo, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), announced that the recipients of the Mentorship/Leadership Awards for 2024 will be unveiled at the luncheon scheduled for Thursday, March 28th, 2024 at State House-Entebbe.

These prestigious awards aim to recognize individuals who have shown exceptional service and leadership in their respective fields, making a significant positive impact on Uganda’s development.

Rwabwogo waxed lyrical about Oulanyah noting that the late has become a role model for many young people in Uganda, serving as an inspiration through his integrity and principled leadership. “His influence extends beyond Uganda’s borders, as Oulanyah’s leadership style has become a template for leaders across the African continent. As Uganda moves forward, it is inspiring to see individuals like Jacob Oulanyah and the award recipients leading the way. Their integrity and principled approach to leadership serve as guiding lights for future generations, driving them to strive for excellence and make a difference in their respective fields.” Rwabwogo stated.

The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon Norbert Mao drew bouts of laughter from the audience as he satirically reminisced about the good times he spent with Oulanyah going as far back as university at Makerere University when they were laying foundations for their political careers. “Jacob was confident and that is why he went for the positions he occupied. It goes to show that God does not choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen. On March 28, 2024, President Museveni will host the Mentorship Luncheon at State House, Entebbe. H.E. continues the journey of sowing the mustard seed. You don’t have to be NRM to be a believer in the values that Museveni stands for. I am one of those who have caused him a great headache. His mission is to gather true believers from everywhere because they serve Uganda. We want to thank the President for agreeing to host this event and honor Jacob (Oulanyah) and the other twenty men and women who have served the country exceptionally.”

Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Norbert Mao

Ofwono Opondo, the Executive Director at Uganda Media Centre urged all aspiring young leaders to emulate Oulanyah in whatever career they choose. “He was a man of integrity, was fierce and courageous but most importantly he was principled.”

Hon. Andrew Ojok Oulanyah the Omoro Country Member of Parliament and the Late’s son revealed how Oulanyah was a wonderful father who will forever be missed and that his legacy shall live on.

Uganda Media Centre Executive Director Ofwono Opondo with Hon. Andrew Ojok, son to the late Jacob Oulanyah

The announcement fell on the day that marks two years since the former Speaker of Parliament passed on, March 20, 2022.

Atim Karen Oulanyah, the daughter of the late thanked Rwabwogo for the initiative that is shining a spotlight on her father’s legacy. “Please, let us celebrate the man that he was and aspire to be like him”.

Atim Karen Oulanyah, daughter to Jacob Oulanyah speaks at the briefing

Matthew Bagonza revealed how blessed he is to have shared some wonderful moments with Jacob, “Jacob Oulanyah spoke peace. He trusted people. That is the kind of man he was. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for sparing time to attend this event that is honoring the legacy of the late Speaker, and also recognizing other men and women who have contributed immensely to the growth of Uganda.”

Matthew Bagonza, Head of Secretariat- Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development

In his concluding remarks, Rwabwogo explained the purpose of this year’s theme which is to build better role models for the youth, not only in Uganda but Africa at large. “The purpose of this theme is to encourage and build better role models in Africa for the youth who often draw examples from the rest of the world, especially with the pervasive internet and its social media, without a robust cultural and ideological interest that seeks to build Africa. The topic will cover economic change, and political and social tools required to prepare the continent for competition in the 21st century.”

Brenda Ker, Press Secretary to the late Jacob Oulanyah

Others present at the press briefing were Oulanyah’s relatives and colleagues including; Brenda Ker, the late’s Press Secretary, and John Paul Kiffasi from Irene Gleeson Foundation representing many youths who were mentored by the former Speaker of Parliament among many others.

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PACEID Loses Valued Partner as UNDP Uganda’s Elsie Attafuah Departs

It was an evening of mixed emotions as Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the Ugandan United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative, bid farewell to the country after her four and a half years’ tour of duty came to an end. In a heartfelt farewell dinner held at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel on Thursday evening, speakers celebrated her remarkable achievements and contributions towards the nation’s development agenda while at the same time expressed a genuine sense of sadness at her departure. 

Attafuah leaves Uganda to head the UNDP program in Nigeria, a country with the biggest economy in Africa.

Elsie Attafuah with UNDP Uganda Deputy Resident Rep Sheila Ngatia and Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) team; Brenda K. Opus, Head of Markets, Allan Mugisha- Team Lead Infrastructure and Rowland Bon Nkahebwa- Communications attended the farewell dinner to honor Ms. Attafuah, following the end of her successful tenure. Recognizing her immense dedication and transformative impact, PACEID expresses gratitude for her service and commemorates her achievements.

Attafuah’s work aligned closely with PACEID’s objectives, as her initiatives within the UNDP focused on advancing sustainable development, poverty reduction, and promoting environmental responsibility. In August 2023, UNDP Uganda partnered with PACEID to launch an export preparedness training programme designed to help Ugandan exporters successfully penetrate the highly competitive US market considering it offers tremendous opportunities for businesses looking to expand their reach given their USD18trillion consumer expenditure.

The farewell dinner, attended by senior government officials, heads of different UN agencies in Uganda, prominent private sector players and prominent individuals, celebrated Attafuah’s accomplishments during her tenure as UNDP Uganda Country Representative.

UNDP Uganda Deputy Resident Representative Sheila Ngatia thanked guests for honouring Attafuah before waxing lyrical about her passion and deep affection for Uganda. “It’s hard to imagine it’s four and a half years since she assumed her role in Uganda. It’s a time of mixed feelings. She has often asked important questions and positively challenged us to be bold, visionary and seek to end poverty in Uganda and the continent. Attafuah is passionate and deeply affectionate about the Pearl of Africa. We would have wished her to stay longer but such is the nature of our work. I am proud that she heads to Nigeria, the country with Africa’s biggest economy where she will become Uganda’s tourism ambassador.”

Ugandan banker, economist and academician, Prof. Ezra Suruma delivered the keynote speech at the dinner starting by referring to Attafuah as ‘a distinguished daughter of Africa’. “Thank you for your commitment to improving the lives of the people of Uganda, especially the poor and underprivileged. Thank you for your efforts in skilling the youth and fostering the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uganda. Please, rest assured that your efforts have not been in vain. We greatly value your selfless efforts to better Uganda and Africa. We are sorry that you must leave us. We wish you a prosperous career in Nigeria. Come back, Uganda will always be your home.”

At the farewell dinner, Attafuah extended her appreciation for the support and collaboration of PACEID and other partners during her time in Uganda. She highlighted the significant progress made in various sectors and reiterated the importance of sustained efforts in realizing Uganda’s economic potential.

“The spirit of partnership with Uganda will endure, I have full confidence in all partners to continue the work we have started. As I leave Uganda and all our development partners, let’s do development unusual with a fire in our belly. For a development agency like UNDP, it’s inevitable to take risks. Let us be bold and ambitious and do something different. I challenge all of us to do things differently.” Attafuah told guests.

She leaves having been honored to serve Uganda saying that it will aways be her home. “Uganda has everything it takes to prosper, and yet people are poor. Let’s disrupt this. We must have a fire in our belly, and that is what has kept UNDP, kept me going. I am deeply thankful to Uganda for the privilege of serving Uganda. My heart is here, Uganda is home.”

Attafuah paid tribute to the government of Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni and UNDP donors including USA, Germany Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Norway, France, Belgium, India, China and Finland among many others.

“As my time comes to bid farewell to Uganda, I find myself celebrating now more than ever Uganda’s spaces, people, ability, renaissance and knowledge – what I term Uganda’s SPARK. In my last 4 years serving this country and her beautiful people, I continue to be enthralled by the people, landscapes, cultures, communities, women, men and young people who have inspired me since my arrival in 2019.” noted Attafuah whose successor will be coming in two weeks’ time.

World Health Organization Representative to Uganda Yonas Tegegn Woldermarian thanked Attafuah for challenging the UN system to deliver on their commitment to help Uganda achieve its development goals. “Attafuah is passionate and Africa requests passion from each of us. We have the duty to do our best for Africa. The Peal of Africa is not only at the center of Africa but at the center our commitment for partnership in Africa. You have shown how passion for development can make a difference.”

Elsie Attafuah with Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao

Justine Kasule Lumumba, Minister in charge of General Duties in the Office of the Office of the Prime Minister represented Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabajja who was the Chief Guest.

Minister of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister Justine Kasule Lumumba represented Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabanjja

Lumumba expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Attafuah before reading out the PM’s speech to guests which recognized the latter’s commitment and love for Uganda.

Nobert Mao- Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Vincent Bagiire- Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jan Sadek- Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda also gave brief but moving tributes to Attafuah and wished her the best in the next chapter of her career.

Jan Sadek- Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda

Other prominent guests at the event were; Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe- Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Uganda Airlines CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki, Amos Wekesa CEO Great Lakes Safaris and many others attended the farewell dinner.

During the event, UNDP Uganda and partners launched the UNDP Coffee Table Book celebrating 51 years accompanying Uganda’s development agenda.  

Elsie Attafuah’s departure leaves a lasting legacy, but also paves the way for new opportunities and partnerships as the organization moves forward.

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Uganda Trade delegation meets US trade representative over proposed AGOA bans

The Uganda trade delegation yesterday met with the US Assistant Trade Representative for Africa, Ms. Constance Hamilton and the US special envoy to advance Human rights of the LGBTQI+ people, Jessica Stern. The meeting took place in Washington DC at the office of the US Trade representative, Ms. Catherine Tai. The Uganda delegation which included Dr. Olivier Kamanzi, Uganda trade representative in Chicago and Ambassador Roby Kakonge, was led by Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) and Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Duties.

Rwabwogo made a case for Uganda’s exporters who have for the last 23 years benefited from the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) duty and quota free market access to the US and urged US government not use disproportionate force against an ally whose values and relationship have stayed firm on multiple fronts over the years. “Uganda has not violated any trade or human rights law. We continue under President Yoweri Museveni’s capable leadership to score on economic liberalism, supporting free enterprise, protecting our environment, making laws on food safety and building our trade standards”.

He said, “We have never lost our vigour for protecting minorities, workers and leading the charge on regional stability along with ending extreme poverty to keep our nation stable and growing”. He asked, “How can a government that promotes free enterprise, freed women and gave them education and representation along with people with disabilities and hosts over 1.6m refugees be called a violator of human rights of her people? It is a contradiction of mega proportion”.

Rwabwogo said, “We are your best friends for an open engagement with Africa but this has to be done in a respectful and dignified manner especially, on the matters of freedom and rights that you might have. Our leadership has been defenders and fighters for freedom of African people and all our allies and humanity since 1965”. He said Uganda takes exception at the weekly threats and statements sent against people who want to trade with Uganda or visitors, academicians and person to person exchange. These statements you issue to our allies and trading partners on a monthly basis are unacceptable way to communicate to allies and don’t show good will”.

He asked the US government not mix wrong perceptions picked from data sources that aren’t verifiable with our own systems and leaders and use them to judge us harshly. The US state department has lately issued travel advisories, proposed visa restrictions and threatened to remove Uganda from AGOA list, all in three months.

Rwabwogo said, “The US is an important ally and a big signaling market to us and the world in terms of raising capital and technology for enterprises. At USD 18trillion consumption on this market, there is nowhere else we want to be as Ugandans, the reason we have two trade representatives for Uganda in the Mid-west and why President Museveni visited you in December of 2022”.

He added, “If even some of your adversaries who are super powers keep coming here for conversations, why should Uganda be silent when you seem to want to destroy the little trade shoots that are coming up? These trade shoots give jobs to women and youth entrepreneurs who have boot strapped to build their businesses and should be protected from politics”

Uganda’s and US trade in the last three years averages UGX 1.9trillion (about USD550m) with a heavy trade imbalance in favour of the US that sells to Uganda aircraft parts, computers, used clothing, machine parts, generators etc. Uganda exports coffee, vanilla beans, chocolate, dairy products, fish etc. President Joe Biden in October wrote to the speaker of the US House of representatives, Mike Johnson seeking to terminate Uganda’s eligibility on AGOA list of countries in 2024 on account of the gay act passed by Uganda’s parliament in May. Uganda has increased its efforts for trade with the world aiming at USD 6bn in the next five years. PACEID has a target of USD 1bn on the US market and is opening trade hubs in key markets of the world.

Ms. Hamilton said Uganda’s anti homosexuality law ‘demonizes gay people and goes against the values President Biden’s government adheres to. She said, “words matter and this law and the words it uses horrifies many people in the US”. Rwabwogo explained the context of the law as an effort to protect children from the onslaught of curriculum and content that should not be exposed to minors. He asked for rescinding of the January 2024 deadline to allow for more engagement between the two countries in order to protect trade relations. Jessica Sterns raised concerns on what she called ‘documented attacks on gay people and arrests and property damage which causes fear to gay people’. Ambassador Kakonge agreed to follow up on the report from US special envoy on the human rights of the LGBTQ persons.

Dr Kamanzi, who is helping Uganda in Chicago to raise export credit funding and open markets for Uganda said, “I visit Uganda regularly and I have travelled to all corners of the country and I have not seen the claims being made here being committed in Uganda. On the contrary I live in South Side Chicago and I am an American citizen. I am sadly aware every weekend our city of Chicago loses 55 people to gun violence. Should we not be concerned about our internal US issues rather than using disproportionate power against a small peaceful country? He asked.

Earlier, the Uganda delegation which included exporters of leather bags (Seko designs/Arise Kollections), vanilla (Simons Vanilla), fruits and vegetables (Jacana fruits) were hosted by the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) who invited over 45 corporate business in the US, NGOs, civic groups to explain Uganda’s trade and democracy journey over the also couple of years. Some of the US companies and institutions that attended the meeting included Transformative Energy who are working on green energy projects in Uganda, Boeing Aircraft Corporation, manufacturers of fertilizers, producers of beverages, bankers, lawyers and the Africa Trade Development Center, activists for AGOA extension in Washington DC.

The Uganda delegation met the Hudson institute, members of Congress and address the Press later on Friday.

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