India and Uganda: A growing partnership

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Hamid Ansari

Home to around 27,000-strong well-heeled Indian community, Uganda has a special emotive connection with India that harks back to the 17th century when Indian traders sailed on dhows to pitch their tent in this land of opportunity. These centuries-old connections are reflected in effortless cultural commingling, with Ugandans joining in celebrations of Indian festivals with gusto. Uganda is the only African country where Diwali is celebrated at State Guest House, with President Yoweri Museveni hosting the Indian community for celebrations at his official residence every year.

Land of Opportunity

From being a fellow traveler in Uganda’s anti-colonization struggle, India has emerged as a preeminent partner of the dynamic East African country. Economically, the relations have steadily grown, with India emerging as one of the top investors in Uganda and bilateral trade thriving at USD 1.3 billion. Indian companies have carved a leadership position across the spectrum, and have invested more than USD 1 billion in Uganda over the last decade. They have also distinguished themselves in Corporate Social Responsibility activities.

The relations have been nurtured by a series of two-way high level visits that include, among others, the visits from the Indian side by Prime Minister I.K. Gujral (1997) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2007) and the visits by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 1992 and 2008. Vice-President Hamid Ansari visited Uganda in 2011.

Development Partnership

Capacity building remains an important facet of the evolving India-Uganda relations. Kampala has been chosen to host, one of the five institutes offered by India at the Pan-African level under India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS –I) process. The institute could be a game-changer in promoting world-class training in international business and management studies and promoting an entrepreneurial culture across the continent.

India is in the process of setting up a Food-Processing Business Incubation Centre (FPBIC) in Uganda. A tele-medicine centre set up in Mulago Hospital, Kampala, and a tele-education centre up at Makerere University, Kampala, have been set up under the Pan African-e-network project in 2009. Uganda has been also chosen as a recipient of one of the 8 Material Testing Laboratories for Highways (MTLs), set up with Indian assistance under IAFS-II.

Education & Health

Educational bonding remains strong as ever, with many of Uganda’s top leaders, ministers and officials having studied at various institutes in India. The list of illustrious alumni is a long one, and includes among others Hon. Kintu Musoke, former Prime Minister; Hon. Kivejinja former Minister of Internal Affairs and 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, presently Senior Adviser to the President; and Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. Over 1100 Ugandan students are presently studying in Indian universities over the last three years.

Health tourism makes India a magnet for thousands of Ugandans looking at India as a preferred destination for affordable and quality health care. Over the last three years, nearly 1500 hundred Ugandans travelled to India for medical treatment.

Defence/Strategy

In strategic arena, the relations are growing with Ugandan officers getting training at top-class facilities in India, including the National Defence College. An Indian Military Training Team (IMTT) is posted at the Ugandan Army’s Senior Command and Staff College since February 2010 to assist in the training of the senior officers of armed forces of Uganda and other East African countries.

Connecting India & Uganda

The Indian community in Uganda remains the best bridge builder and ambassador of better India-Uganda relations. Indian nationals/PIOs constitute the top 65% of the tax payers locally, and contribute about 60% of the total tax revenues, ensuring continued economic vibrancy of their adopted homeland.

 

Highlights

Bilateral trade: USD 1.37 billion

Investments: FDI from India: USD 1 billion

Key India-assisted Projects

India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade (IAIFT)

Food-Processing Business Incubation Centre (FPBIC)

Tele-medicine centre set up in Mulago Hospital, Kampala

Tele-education centre up at Makerere University, Kampala

ITEC/Scholarships: Under ITEC, ICCR, CV Raman Fellowship and Special Agricultural Scholarship, India offers over 130 scholarships every year to Uganda under different schemes. In 2014-15, over 140 Ugandan students travelled to India under these scholarships and training programmes. Diaspora:

27000, Indians including PIOs

References

Visit of Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs to Uganda, 28-29 June 2007

MOS PK hosts President of Uganda

Statement by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda at the India/Africa Partnership Summit Forum

 

 


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