Export Promotion: Uganda Loops in Commercial Diplomacy

As the country weighs up ways of promoting foreign trade with different countries, commercial diplomacy seems to be the way to go.

At a meeting of Ugandan ambassadors, President Yoweri Museveni singled out a few individuals as being the best performers on account that they convinced many investors to come and set up industries in the country.

Before that, the president hailed the foreign affairs ministry because Ugandan ambassadors and high commissioners had stopped using offices for champagne toasts and were now engaged in serious business.
Addressing his audience, Museveni singled out the ambassador to United Arab Emirates, Kibedi Zaake, whom he praised as the most active ambassador in regard to promoting economic and commercial diplomacy.

“They have become productive. The one who has been very active is the ambassador in Dubai, the young politician Kibedi (Zaake), that one has been very active,” Museveni said.

“There was Maj Gen Muheesi. When he was in New Delhi, he met an Indian who was going to South America to build a milk factory there. Muheesi said ‘what do you go to South America instead of Uganda?’ Muheesi managed to divert him and he now built a factory in Lyantonde. So, there are some few cases where these foreigners (ambassadors) have helped the national affairs,” the president added.

Following the President’s remarks, Kibedi said: “I am so happy for this opportunity that the President has singled me out for such acknowledgement. I am more deeply motivated than ever.”

KIbedi was at the forefront of Uganda’s involvement in Dubai Expo 2020 during which Uganda signed a number of agreements with investors.

Prior to UAE, Kibedi was Uganda’s envoy to the Nordic states where he initiated the first Uganda trade, tourism and investment promotion symposium in Denmark.

Kibedi later organised more than 500 tourists from the Nordic States to visit Uganda in May 2016.

In South Africa, High Commissioner Paul Amoru, appointed three months ago, is already in negotiations to have joint venture in setting up a military museum in Uganda in a bid to attract tourists.

Amoru also tipped Uganda Airways to increase the number of weekly flights since traffic had grown tremendously.

Max Mugarura, a business development consultant is full of praise for the Ugandan embassy in Germany. Narrating a story of his friend who had gone on a business trip in Germany, Mugarura wrote: “She said our Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the deputy ambassador stationed in Berlin had linked her to all the business meetings, making her trip a worthwhile value for money.”

He added: “The Government of Uganda has stressed the importance of commercial diplomacy and I am glad to see it happening for ordinary Ugandans as opposed to just government employees going on trips and not sharing vital business links.

Commercial diplomacy has the potential to reap huge benefits for our restless entrepreneurs looking to forge links and partnerships with entities which in turn want to come and establish businesses in Uganda. Suddenly our businesspeople have access to precise and tailor-made contacts which is vital to the success of any trip.”

From this experience, the business development consultant concluded: “Commercial diplomacy lands us the much-needed partnerships that we would otherwise struggle to establish links with because we might not know they exist, even in this connected world. And even if we did, who is the key contact there?”

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