Diaspora Services Overview
The Ugandan Diaspora comprises of all people of Ugandan origin living and/or working outside Uganda. It also includes Ugandans who may have lost their citizenship through acquisition of other citizenship. The Ugandans in the Diaspora are estimated to be 1.5 million according to the UN Human Development Report 2009. The majority of Ugandans emigrated in the early 1970s, during the political turmoil that beset the country following the assumption of political power by the Idi Amin military regime. This group of Ugandan emigrants of the 1970s includes those of Asian origin that were hastily expelled in 1972. Over the years, other Ugandans have emigrated mainly in search for better social and economic opportunities.
We believe that our Diaspora are actively or potentially enthused with various aspects of the country they left. This can be exemplified by their participation in National celebrations, cultural galas, and annual get together among other explicit ways. Many of the Ugandan Diaspora possess impressive knowledge, skills, talents and financial resources that have already contributed significantly to the development of their host countries and Uganda as their ancestral land. Some of the Diaspora are still looking for opportunities to contribute towards developing Uganda.
In recognition of the contribution by the Diaspora to Uganda's National development, H.E the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, in 2007 directed that a Diaspora Services Department (DSD) be established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to handle Diaspora issues and facilitate their contribution to the social, economic, technological and political development in Uganda.
In the same year, the Diaspora Services Department was established and today, it serves as a coordination point for various Diaspora issues and offers a wide range of services to the large population of Ugandans in the Diaspora and their relatives at home (Uganda).
Mandate of the Diaspora Services Department
The mandate of the DSD within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes:
- Driving the development, management and implementation of the National Diaspora Policy
- Promoting, nurturing and sustaining a mutually beneficial relationship between the Government and overseas Ugandans. The DSD aims at positioning itself as a one- stop centre for the Uganda Diaspora community.
- Establishment and maintenance of a data base on the identity, location and skills of the Ugandan Diaspora.
- Structuring of information and channels of communication with the Diaspora.
- Identification and dissemination of information on relevant opportunities for the Diaspora community.
- Mobilization of resources for Diaspora programs.
- Providing assistance on overall integration of Diaspora in the development process of Uganda through structuring programs to enable the Diaspora to invest in Uganda.
- Participation in National and International Diaspora initiatives.
- Coordination of Diaspora interests to ensure that they receive the desired attention.
Services/Programmes currently offered by the Diaspora Services Department
1. The National Diaspora Policy (process is Still ongoing )
With support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in consultation with other stakeholders has developed a draft National Diaspora Policy. The main objective of this policy is to unbind constraints that affect the Ugandan Diaspora and their participation in Uganda's national development. The draft policy looks at the various problems Ugandans face while living and/or working in their host countries, how these affect them and their participation in National development. The draft policy also indentifies strategies to overcome these challenges, among other things.
2. Infrastructure Development programme (is Still ongoing)
Diaspora Services Department was funded by World Bank to carry out a feasibility study on the engagement of Ugandans in the Diaspora to participate in infrastructure development in Uganda specifically in the energy, roads and railways sectors. The studies have been completed and the reports are attached. The Ministry believes that the Ugandan Diaspora can participate in Infrastructure development through their skills, funding of the sector as individuals or in groups, and utilization of their networks abroad to contribute to this sector. The government of Uganda is encouraging Public Private Partnerships with the Diaspora and other interested parties to improve this sector.
3. Investment Opportunities in Uganda
The Ministry together with Uganda Investment Authority with support from the United Nations Development Programme compiled a compendium of business profiles and investment opportunities available in Uganda for our Diaspora. This compendium was launched in Nairobi in 2013, copies of the compendium were distributed at the launch and at various Diaspora conventions. Copies are also available at our missions abroad as well as compendium
4. Home is Best Summit
Every December, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Uganda Investment Authority participate in the "Home is Best Summit." This event brings together a large number of Ugandans from the Diaspora on holiday. A lot of information is shared between the Government of Uganda, private sector, Diaspora and well wishers.
The Ministry therefore encourages and supports more Ugandans in the Diaspora to participate in this event as a channel of communication, interaction and sharing ideas on how best they can participate in Uganda's development, challenges, successes and opportunities.
5. Uganda Conventions.
Every year, the Department participates in the various conventions organized for and by the Ugandans in the Diaspora. These include the Uganda North America Association, the Uganda UK and the Uganda Nordic convention. The Diaspora Services Department takes time to interact with members of the Diaspora community and encourages other Uganda Diaspora Communities in different parts of the world to form associations that unite them as Ugandans with the aim of contributing to the development in their home country, Uganda.
6. Anti Human Trafficking programmes
Human trafficking is one of the biggest challenges that the Department is facing where many unsuspecting Ugandans especially the unemployed youth are lured into going abroad with promises of better opportunities only to be trapped, abused and stranded. The Department works closely with other stakeholders including the police, Ministry of Immigration, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development and missions abroad to combat this crime. The Department is also a member of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking.
7. The Department also coordinates with Uganda's missions abroad and foreign missions in Uganda in resolving various Diaspora issues.
8. The Government has drafted and Signed various M.O.Us with some foreign governments on the transfer of Ugandans imprisoned abroad.
9. Linking the Diaspora with their relatives in Uganda
The Department has on many occasions been approached by relatives of the Ugandans abroad to help in tracing them especially in time of distress. The department assists in any way it possibly can but sometimes the distressed Ugandans in the Diaspora cannot be reached due to lack of information on their personal details. It's on that note therefore, that we encourage our Diaspora to register their details either online or with the missions nearest to them.