Government officials have applauded the Ugandan Community in the United Arab Emirates 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 Abu Dhabi Community leaders who represent over 100,000 Ugandans following the earlier meeting with President Yoweri Museveni during the ongoing Dubai 2020 Expo.
Government delegation was led by the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Lukia Nakadama, Minister of Gender, Minister of ICT, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Amb. Abbey Walusimbi, Amb. Kibedi Zaake and other Ministers as well as Permanent Secretaries while the community leaders were led by their Abu Dhabi chapter Chairman, Ismail Ssebugwaawo.
While chairing the meeting, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon.Lukia Nakadama said that government is currently prioritizing the diaspora given their contribution to the country’s foreign direct investment.
Nakadama said that for the sake of Dubai, the country receives over $900m as remittances and this has increased over time due to the increased labour exportation to the Middle East in general.
Nakadama thus noted that such a productive community needs government support and reechoed President’s promise to support them with funds worth $100,000 to be put in the community SACCO to be borrowed by members and used to set up small businesses in Dubai and a sum of $50,000 to support the association.
At the meeting, the Community Chairman Ismail Ssebugwaawo highlighted a number of challenges faced by the community members in UAE which included; difficulty in renewing travel documents, mistreatment of laborers especially domestic workers, lack of a minimum wage among others.
“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 which can be used to repatriate Ugandans stranded in the foreign country,” Ssebugwaawo said.
In response, Nakadama noted that government is waiting form their counterparts to assign a focal person on the implementation of the minimum wage following an MOU 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.
Amb. Walusimbi said that the contribution of Ugandans living and working in UAE can’t be over emphasized and their input to the country’s economic development speaks for itself.
The Ambassador appreciated President Museveni noting that he has always taken keen interest to the Ugandan community in the diaspora with the aim of negotiating for better living and working conditions for all Ugandans abroad.
He appealed to the Community leaders to encourage all community members to use the Dubai Expo 2020 as an opportunity 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,” Walusimbi said.