The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has urged the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Africa to take interest in the challenges faced by their people in securing visas.
Kadaga says the ministers to look specifically into easing of restrictions on getting visas, which continue to hinder movement of people.
“In 1995 when the Schengen arrangement started, a visa of Germany could take you anywhere in Europe, but now almost each country wants the processing of their own and it seems our foreign affairs officers are not aware about this,” Kadaga said.
The speaker notes that the best course of action by the foreign affairs office to check on this challenge faced by citizens is to set up a reciprocal arrangement which would go a long way in easing access to visas by Ugandans.
“Uganda processes visas at the port of entry whereby persons getting into the country can get a visa on arrival at Entebbe Airport. We need to set up such arrangements with other major countries which our people travel to so as to ease their access to visas.”
Kadaga was addressing Ugandans living in Canada at the 3rd Uganda Canadian Diaspora Business Expo and Convention in Toronto.
The Speaker assured the audience that plans were on course to facilitate Ugandans living in the diaspora to be able to renew their passports as well as acquire Uganda national identification cards and certificates of dual citizenship.
“Government will facilitate six centers around the world which can give services to Ugandans in the diaspora. We have a Middle East office in Abu Dhabi, a UK office in London, a US office in Washington, a SADC office in Pretoria and the Canada office will be in Ottawa.”
Other subjects discussed at the event included Uganda’s tourism potential for which the diaspora residents have been called on to invest in owing to the fact that religious tourism is taking root in the country.
“It’s a very big thing that Uganda has the Martyrs, that is why we have been visited by three Popes. On Martyrs Day, Namugongo had up to five million people. This is an opportunity that Ugandans in the diaspora can tap into and invest in things like hotel facilities,”.
The three-day conference which was under the theme “Building Uganda and Networking Diaspora Initiatives”, was attended by Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Uganda High Commissioner to Canada, Joy Ruth Acheng and the Uganda Hotel Owners Association chairperson, Susan Muhwezi.