By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Amb.Abbey Walusimbi has applauded the Ugandan community in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates at large for their continued contribution to the country’s economic growth through annual remittances of over $900 million.
This was during a follow up meeting with the Dubai community leaders who represent over 100,000 Ugandans following the earlier meeting with President Yoweri Museveni during the ongoing Dubai 2020 Expo.
During the meeting, Walusimbi said that the contribution of Ugandans living and working in UAE can’t be over emphasized.
“In past few years your financial contributions back home have been estimated to close to 1billion dollars, something that has greatly supported our economy. I trust that if we don’t let divisive politics eat our core, you can do more than this and we have faith in your hard work and generous spirit to see Mama Uganda at the top,” Walusimbi told the community leaders.
He noted that the Dubai Expo is an opportunity for all Ugandans to showcase the uniqueness of the country’s natural resources, culture and good nature.
“All of you here are the first ambassadors of Uganda in this place. This is a chance for you to showcase what positively makes us inherent of the Pearl of Africa, your skills are unmatched and people here should know that having a Ugandan on their team is blessing.”
While chairing the meeting, the third Deputy Prime Minister, Lukia Nakadama said that the diaspora contributes to Uganda’s direct foreign investment and from Dubai, over $900m is received in remittances.
This annual remittance has increased over time as a result of the increased labour exportation to the Middle East in general.
Nakadama noted that such a community needs government assistance and re-echoed the president’s promise to support them.
At the meeting, the Ugandan community president, Ismail Ssebugwawo highlighted a number of challenges faced by Ugandans in Dubai which among others include difficulty in renewing travel documents, mistreatment of laborers especially domestic workers and lack of a minimum wage.
“We are still requesting that government finalizes arrangement and negotiations with its counterparts in regard to the minimum wage. We also request that government sets up a shelter to house Ugandans in distress as well as setting aside a few tickets every month that can be used to repatriate Ugandans stranded in the foreign country,” Ssebugwawo said.
In response, Nakadama noted that government is waiting for their counterparts to assign a focal person on the implementation of the minimum wage following a memorandum of understanding that was signed in 2019 which had put the minimum wage at $1000 per month.
Amb. Walusimbi added that his office is working hand in hand with the different government agencies, ministries and department to come up with a diaspora policy that will be instrumental in improving the plight of all Ugandans living and working abroad and this will entail easing access and renewal of travel documents.