The 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit kicked off at Speke Convention Centre Munyonyo, Kampala, yesterday, with heads of state and senior government officials in attendance.

The summit, which will end on January 20, will attract hundreds of delegates from the 120 states, 18 observer countries and 10 observer organisations that make up the movement.

The Ugandan government has so far sunk billions of shillings into beautifying Kampala city and the host venue to construct a modern conference facility. In total, over sh60b has been invested to prepare for the summit.

Adonia Ayebare, Uganda’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), says it is the first time Uganda is hosting two big international summits — NAM and G77+China conference together.

“This is a huge gathering; in comparative terms, you can compare it with the UN General Assembly because the NAM is comprised of 120 countries and the G77+China is composed of 134 countries. The UN General Assembly is made up of 193 countries,” he said.

Ayebare, while appearing on Urban TV on Saturday afternoon, said through NAM, almost 80% of the countries in the world are represented in Uganda.

The ambassador said the over 1,500 visitors will bring a lot of money into Uganda’s economy through their daily expenses such as paying for accommodation and food.

He also added that other delegates might decide to stay to discover more about Uganda, which will bring in more money through the tourism sector.

Currently, most of the five- and three-star hotels are already all booked to capacity, which means a lot to the private investors.

“However, the biggest achievement will be promoting the country’s image. All the international media has already put the Pearl of Africa under the spotlight, and this is creating exposure to the rest of the world.”

“I have friends who are coming to Uganda for the first time to attend

 NAM and G77+China summits, and the impression they get will last,” Ayebare said.

“If these people get a good impression, they might come back to invest in businesses, which creates opportunities for the youth who are crying out for employment. Uganda is one of the countries in the world with the youngest population, which means labour is awaiting to be exploited by the investors that comes in,” he said.

The ambassador noted that through the summits, Uganda will get the most tangible benefit, which is diplomatic clout. As NAM chair, Uganda is expected to play a key role in the decision-making process on the world’s geopolitical table and advance the economic and social objectives of developing countries, which represent 80% of the world’s population.

“This is an opportunity for Uganda to showcase its leadership within the NAM and G77+China countries by putting in place an outcome that will depict the relevance of the summits in the world order,” Okello Oryem, the foreign affairs state minister, told New Vision in an earlier engagement.

Ayebare said Uganda is one of the countries yearning to grow its economy using technology, noting that hosting NAM presents an opportunity to convince the more developed member states to share some of the ideas with Uganda.

His full interview will air again on Urban TV at 10:00pm tonight.


Meanwhile, Ayebare was yesterday elected chairman of the senior officials meeting of the NAM summit in Kampala.

He was nominated by the host country and elected after no objection was raised by delegates from 120 NAM countries at the opening session of the five-day summit at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Hotel.

The senior officials meeting precedes the meeting of foreign affairs ministers of the NAM countries.

“I am excited and overwhelmed by your confidence in assuming the chair of the senior officials meeting for the summit. I promise to chair this meeting with transparency and openness and I call on you to extend the same support you exceeded to our colleagues and friends of Azerbaijan,” Ayebare, who is also the deputy chairperson of the organising committee for NAM summit, said.

He said the task before them as senior officials is to adopt the Final Outcome Document and the Kampala Political Declaration.

“The Final Outcome Document was adopted by our ministers in Baku (Azerbaijan) after very extensive negotiations and consultations under the leadership of Azerbaijan. I implore that this document should be reopened because there is no need; we should only consider technical updates that have taken place between Baku and Kampala,” he implored the delegates.

He said the summit’s ministerial meeting will be held on Wednesday and Thursday and, therefore, they expect them as senior officials to conclude their work in time.

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