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India Uganda Friends Since Decades


India Uganda


Human migration has often been described in terms of pushes and pulls. According to ‘World Survey Monitor,’ pushes are the conditions in one’s country that creates the impetus for leaving. Pulls are the conditions in the country of destination that lures a migrant to leave home. However, this has not been the case always. Many a times this migration has been forced, and not the choice of the community.

During the 19th century, the British were expanding their empire in Africa, and this period a large number of People of Indian Origin (PIO) were taken to Uganda in different capacities as indentured worker, railway worker, artisans, and slaves. Upon its completion, the railway was manned for several decades by Indian drivers, foremen, station master, linesmen, telegrapher, etc. Other settled as dukka wallas, or petty traders along the railway line. The construction of the Ugandan railway enhanced opportunities, to extend their trade activities in distant land. Indian population in East Africa increased in this period especially due to large number of free immigrants to East Africa. During this period, Europeans and Indians owned almost all the means of production and distribution. This trend continued till the independence of the East African countries. Indians in their different capacities contributed to the vast economic development of Uganda.

India-Uganda relations are bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of Uganda. India and Uganda established diplomatic relations in 1965 and each maintain a High Commission in the other’s capital. The bilateral relations between India and Uganda are characterised by historical cultural linkages, extensive economic and trade interests, and a convergence on major bilateral and international issues. Relations between India and Uganda began with the arrival of over 30,000 Indians in Uganda in the 19th century who were brought there to construct the Mombasa-Kampala railway line. Ugandan independence activists were inspired in their struggle for Ugandan independence by the success of the Indian freedom struggle and were also supported in their struggle by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

India established it diplomatic presence in Uganda in 1965, but the relationship between both countries dates back to the era when traders exchanged goods in dhows across the Indian Ocean. Eventually a number of Indians settled in East Africa, and many made Uganda their home. India’s freedom struggle inspired the early Ugandan activists to fight colonization and eventually achieved freedom in 1962. During the reign of President Amin in early 70’s, nearly 60,000 Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Indians were expelled from Uganda. However, with coming of power of the current President, HE President Museveni, in 1986, the anti- Indian policies were reversed. Several progressive steps like restoring properties seized from PIOs, ensured that the bilateral relations were normalized. The relations continue to prosper till date.

India Uganda Friends Since Decades
The then Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Environment and Forests, Dr. M. Veerappa Moily and the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda, Eng. Irene Muloni, in a bilateral meeting, during the 11th International Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition – PETROTECH-2014, in Noida, Uttar Pradesh on January 14, 2014.

High-Level Visits:
President Museveni paid a State Visit to India in October, 1992. Indian Prime Minister Shri. I.K. Gujral, visited Uganda in 1997. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Kampala in 2007 to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi visted Kampala during CHOGM as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was received by Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, and by the Interior and Agriculture Ministers. He also called on President Museveni. President Museveni paid another State Visit to India in April 2008 and also participated in the first India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi. Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari transited Kampala in July 2011 enroute to Juba. President Museveni was on a private visit to India in September 2011 during which he met Indian investors. A parliamentary delegation led by Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar visited Kampala in April 2012 to attend the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Kampala. The Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda Mrs. Rebecca Kadaga led a delegation to New Delhi to attend the 7th Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament held in New Delhi from October 3-4, 2012. The Vice President of Uganda Edward Ssekandi, led a business delegation to New Delhi in March 2013.

The delegation included Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Tress Buchanayandi, Hon. MoS for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem and Hon. MoS for Finance and Planning, Fred Omach. They also attended the 9th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India- Africa Partnership in New Delhi. The then Hon. EAM Shri Salman Khurshid visited Kampala in April 2013, during which he called on President Museveni. He also met with Foreign Minister Sam K. Kutesa and some senior Cabinet Ministers during this visit. Hon. Minister of Health & Family Welfare, The then Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, visited Kampala in March 2013 to chair the 22nd Executive Committee Meeting of Partners in Population Development (PPD) Hon. Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ms Irene Muloni, visited India in January 2014 to attend Petrotech 2014 as a Guest of Honour. During the visit, She had a meeting with The then Hon. Minister of Pertroleum and Natural Gas, Dr. Veerappa Moily. Prof Dr Zerubabel M. Nyiira, Hon’ble MoS for Agriculture, Government of Uganda travelled to India in February 2014 to participate in Asia-Africa Agri business Forum 2014. Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Development Ms. Maria Kiwanuka travelled to India in March 2014 to participate in the 10th CII-Exim Bank Conclave.

Bilateral Development Partneship:
Government of India is setting up a Food-Processing Business Incubation Centre (FPBIC) in Uganda. The centre will provide support to the local entrepreneurs to enhance their skills in food processing and to acquaint themselves with the latest technologies and equipments used in this industry and would also create additional jobs for the rural youth. The inter-Governmental MoU was signed by High Commissioner with the Ugandan Minister for Agriculture in Kampala in June 2014. The MoU between ICRISAT Hyderabad and National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL) Kawanda to carry the project forward is expected to be signed soon. Uganda has agreed to host the India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade (IAIFT), one of the 5 institutes offered by India at the Pan-African level under IAFSI. The institute is envisaged to impart world-class training in International Business and Management Studies, develop entrepreneurial skills and promote research in foreign trade. The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) is the Indian implementing agency for the IAIFT. The relevant MoUs remain to be signed, with IIFT preferring a separate building to house the IAIFT, and the Ugandan government only being able to provide the top two floors (new construction) of the Ugandan Management Institute (UMI) for the Institute.

A tele-medicine centre and a teleeducation centre have been set up under the Pan-African e-Network Project. The tele-medical centre has been set up in Mulago Hospital, Kampala where several diagnostic equipments for ECG, X Ray, Ultrasound, etc., have also been set up as part of the project. The centre is connected to 11 reputed Indian hospitals to ensure quality medical consultation and treatment for patients and medical education for students. The tele-education centre has been set up at Makerere University, Kampala. These centres were inaugurated in August, 2010 by Foreign Ministers of both the countries. India is preferred destination for affordable and quality health care for Ugandans. There is an increasing trend of Ugandan medicare seekers travelling to India. Over the last three years, nearly 1500 hundred Ugandans travelled to India to seek medical treatment. Several Indian hospitals are mounting delegations to Kampala to further explore opportunities of medical tourism to India from Uganda.

India is also seen as a destination for quality and affordable education by Ugandan students. An estimated 1100 Ugandan students are presently studying in Indian universities over the last three years, 1062 student visas have been issued by this Mission. The Government of India offers scholarships and fellowships to Ugandans from the public and private sector to enable them to pursue undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and research courses in India under ITEC, ICCR, CV Raman Fellowship and Special Agricultural Scholarship. India offers over 100 scholarships every year to Uganda under different schemes. In 2013-14, over 140 Ugandan students travelled to India under these scholarships and training programmes. Some of the illustrious alumni of Indian institutes consists of dignitaries like Hon. Kintu Musoke, former Prime Minister, Hon. Kivejinja former Minister of Internal Affairs and 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, presently Senior Adviser to the President; Hon. Bidandi Ssali, former Local Government Minister; Hon Kefeero Ssekitcho, MP and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology and innovation Prof. Balunywa Waswa, Hon. Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Principal Makerere Universit Business School and many others. An APTECH franchise, set-up in Kampala in 1999 and a Sikkim-Manipal University branch, set-up in Kampala in 2005, have brought Indian education to Uganda. Two Schools i.e. Delhi Public School and Indian International School, which follow CBSE curriculum, are also operating in Kampala. India also conducts training courses for Uganda’s defence personnel. Several Ugandan defence officers have availed these, including a seat at the prestigious National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi.

An Indian Military Training Team (IMTT) led by a Brigadier and consisting of two Colonels and one Group Captain is stationed at the Ugandan Army’s Senior Command and Staff College, Kimaka, Jinja, since February 2010 to assist in the training of the senior officers of the Ugandan and East African armed forces. The major items of India’s exports to Uganda include, among others, pharmaceuticals, bicycles and bicycle parts, automobile components, small industry & agro-processing machinery, 2-wheelers, textiles, tyres and sports equipment. Uganda imports almost 30 percent of its pharmaceuticals from India. India’s imports from Uganda include, among others, tea, wood and wood products. Significant openings in the Ugandan oil and gas sector are anticipated by mid-2015 when fresh round of licensing of oil blocks begins in mid 2013. India remains one of the leading FDI investors in Uganda. In 2013, India’s investments in Uganda were $122 million.

In terms of planned FDI Investments, India has consistently been among the top three FDI sources. It is estimated that Indians/PIOs have invested more than US$1 billion in the country during the last decade. In 2010, an Indian company, Bharti Airtel, completed its takeover of the telecommunication company Zain Telecom in Uganda as a part of its transnational take over in many countries in Africa. Airtel is deepening its presence in Uganda, and in East and Southern Africa. More recently, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have transformed the way in which the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) unctions, and the URA is apparently the only such authority in the entire of African continent with 100 percent computerised functioning. TCS has 100 of its employees based in Uganda. A Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between India and Uganda is in effect since 2004. An MoU for Cooperation in the fields of Agriculture and Allied Sectors was signed in 2007. Uganda has joined the Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme since 2012, and is likely to benefit significantly from this. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) is pending for want of few clarifications from the Ugandan side and draft proposed by India.

Indians and PIOs play a leading role in the Ugandan economy. Indian companies are leaders in several sectors like manufacturing (NC Beverages) , trade (Anisuma), agro-processing (Nile Agro) , Education (Technobrain, APTECH), Auto (TATA), Banking and Financial services(Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and PKF), sugar (Mayuge), real estate (Tirupati), hospitality & tourism (Satguru) and IT (Technology Associates). In addition to these, Ruparelia Group , MARA Group, Madhvani Group, Mehta Group, Kiboko, Mukwano Group and Roofings are some of the major PIO owned diversified businesses. These employ thousands of Ugandans, and are amongst the biggest taxpayers in the country. PIOs and NRIs are estimated to have invested over $1 billion in Uganda in the last decade. As per the statistics put forward by the Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA), Indian nationals/ PIO constitute the top 65 percent of the taxpayers locally, and contribute about 60 percent of the total revenues collected by the URA during 2013-14.

Indian migration in the initial years in Africa, and specially was more as a result of indentured labour, after exodus situation changed. The present migration of the Indian diaspora not only coming with big investment and capital in Uganda, but also working towards skill development. Thus, India’s engagement in Uganda and other parts of Africa is very different from any other developed countries, and specially very different approach than the west. Indian’s engagement in Africa has been accused in term of new-imperialist interest, but time and again India proved it wrong by its various skill development programmes. India has many engagement in Uganda, and along with that new kind of migration with new skill development exchange programmes.

By Neha Sinha is PhD Research Scholar,
Center for African Studies, JNU