The Ugandan Diaspora Community is calling for the establishment of an investment policy that will help channel remittances into investment avenues back home.
Ronnie Mayanja of the Uganda Diaspora Community based in Boston, USA says progress in penetrating the Ugandan Market has been slow due to lack of a clear investment policy.
Mayanja also announced the upcoming Diaspora Business Expo to be held from 6th to 13th July to in Boston, USA. The forum provides an avenue where potential investors in the Diaspora can look for markets and exchange cultural values.
Diaspora investment is currently feasible in construction, tourism, and hospitality and health care sectors.
Speaking to the Media Friday, Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) Executive Director Eng. Dr. Frank Sebbowa said that the authority is looking for ways in which the Diaspora can invest in information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a best practice transfer from the host countries.
He said there is a draft to develop a policy that will secure Diaspora interests in Uganda.
Recently, the Bank of Uganda introduced Diaspora bonds to encourage the diaspora to invest in the country and contribute to national development.
For the last 3 years, Ugandan Diaspora has been remitting up to 700 million US dollars annually, money which the government wants to channel into formal investment instead of consumption. The Bank of Uganda projects over 1 billion dollars for the next year.
Ssebowa however acknowledged that information on diaspora investment opportunities remains insufficient; this is coupled by lack of institutions that can support Diaspora’s engagement in business ventures.
While reaching markets home could still be a huddle, divisions among Diaspora communities abroad and a heavy social and economic burden pose challenges to Diaspora presence in home countries.
Maggie Kigozi, Patron of the Diaspora Community in Uganda, noted that remittances are largely used at a social level, but could be profitable if invested in small and medium economies.
Statistics on foreign exchange shows that Kenyan Diaspora is the greatest contributor to Uganda at 326 million USD, UK contributes 176 million USD while the US 87million dollars.