Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo recently signed an intergovernmental agreement under which they will both undertake the construction of three roads to boost trade. One of the roads is between the border town of Bunagana and Goma. ARINAITWE RUGYENDO interviewed Ms. Nadia Kanyankore, a multilingual secretary at the Ugandan Consulate in Goma, located on the shores of Lake Kivu and below are the excerpts, read on:
Rugyendo: Briefly, tell us who you are
Nadia: My Name is Nadia Kanyankore: I am a Congolese and I work for the Ugandan embassy in DRC in the liaison office as the multi-lingual secretary here.
Rugyendo: You say you are bilingual. How many languages do you speak?
Nadia: I speak seven languages but I use two.
Rugyendo: Can you list the seven?
Nadia: English, French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Lingala and Afrikaans.
Rugyendo: What is your role here?
Nadia: My role here is to assist the head of liaison in all duties and translate and interpret most of the documents. Also, when she goes to meetings and needs a translator; I go with her.
Rugyendo: What happens at this liaison office?
Nadia: We connect Ugandan and Congolese businessmen so they can trade together. We also give consular services and also assist any Ugandan that is in distress.
Rugyendo: How many Ugandans live here?
Nadia: We have straight over 200 Ugandans living and working in Goma.
Rugyendo: What do they do?
Nadia: We have very many doing, mechanics; we also have Ugandans that work with UN; some others are into food: there is a lady making a lot of money selling chicken luwombo, others are into medical services and boda-boda.
Rugyendo: How are Congolese feeling about Ugandans?
Nadia: Congolese welcome everyone that comes to their house and the projects that they are bringing. That is what I see.
Rugyendo: What about trade wise?
Nadia: Ugandans here are all out to promote Goma. We’ve been living in wars and it is really appreciated to hear that there are real entrepreneurs from Uganda beginning to invest in Goma and are all out to promote Goma: to promote small-scale merchants and the people.
Rugyendo: Uganda is set to begin construction of Roads
Nadia: My opinion is that it will promote trade between Uganda and Eastern DRC, and get products here easier and faster: right now, goods from Uganda take between 24 and 48 hours because of bad roads.
Rugyendo: What do you advise UG investors about Goma?
Nadia: We have a lot of construction materials such as cement; iron bars; plastic pipes; floor tiles, roofings, sugar; cooking oil, hair products, milk, cars, motor bikes blankets and mattress, agricultural products and all these plastics so common in Uganda.
Rugyendo: How are the three countries of Uganda, DRC and Rwanda relating here?
Nadia: There are more Rwandans in Goma than Ugandans: the three countries are more harmonized into the business world. Ugandans and Rwandans here understand that everyone has come here to work. Goma has become the business hub and an epicenter for regional business. Even Burundi has started coming especially in the areas of Uvira and Bukavu.
Rugyendo: What do you advise Ugandans who haven’t ventured here?
Nadia: Ugandans should not fear and come and invest in the Eastern DRC. We’ve been living in wars and it is really welcome to hear that there are real entrepreneurs from Uganda beginning to invest in Goma and are all out to promote Goma.
Rugyendo: What advice can you give Ugandan businessmen?
Nadia: I can say manufacturers and factory owners have a huge opportunity here: we get most of our products that we use from Uganda. In Goma, nothing is made here.