Fruitful visit to strengthen relations with New Delhi, says Sam Kutesa winding up five-day India trip
Shreerupa Mitra-Jha | July 31, 2014 | New Delhi
India and Uganda share very strong relations for the past two centuries and the Indian community has been a part of the African nation’s development story since the last part of the 18th century, Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa said at the end of his five-day trip with a delegation of ministers in New Delhi on Wednesday (July 30).
Speaking exclusively to Governance Now, Kutesa said he was in India with two overarching objectives: to strengthen bilateral relations and to congratulate prime minister Modi on behalf of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni on forming his government.
The visiting delegation included minister of information, communication and technology John Nasasira, minister of state for fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa, minister of state for investments Ajedra Gabriel Aridru and other senior officials of the Ugandan government.
“I have come here to strengthen our relations. We have had Indians fighting alongside us against colonialism (and) we both have a commonwealth heritage and are part of the non-aligned movement (NAM),” Kutesa said.
Calling it a “good meeting” with Modi at 7, Race Course Road on July 29, Kutesa said, “The prime minister had visited Uganda when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. He had then encouraged Ugandan investment in India and India’s investment in Uganda. I have come to India to follow that up. I had also visited Gujarat when he was the chief minister and was very impressed with the development of the state. Since I have also been elected as president of 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, we discussed what changes we would like to see in the UN.
“We also spoke of the region vis-à-vis India.”
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj hosted a dinner for her Ugandan counterpart and his delegation on July 30. A large number of bilateral issues and development projects were discussed. Kutesa emphasized on development cooperation between India and Uganda particularly in the field of hydropower, ICT, investment and capacity building.
A significant number of Ugandan students are currently studying in various Indian institutions of higher education. Under the first India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-I), it has been proposed to set up a India Africa Institute of Foreign Trade (IAIFT), which is a pan-African institution for students from all over Africa. The institute will be set up by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT).
There is also a proposal to set up a food processing business incubation centre under IAFS-II. The centre is being set up by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The Ugandan president has come to India twice on state visits and once on a private visit in 2011.
India’s engagement with Uganda is on three levels: at the African Union-level, at the regional economic communities-level, and at the bilateral level.
India is Uganda’s largest trading partner. The bilateral trade stood at $567.43 million in 2013-2014. This is a drastic rise over $220 million in 2009-2010. With India’s export at $534.28, the balance of trade is heavily skewed in favour of India.
India is the second largest FDI investor in Uganda. In 2010, Bharti Airtel acquired Zain, a telecommunication company operating in Uganda and several other African countries.
There are 27,000 Indians living in Uganda.
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