Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered a total of USD 205m in loan, outlining his 10-point foreign policy objective with Uganda.
Addressing a special sitting of Parliament in the company of President Yoweri Museveni, Modi listed trade, defense, health, technology and governance as the key tenets that will inform cooperation with Uganda.
“Our efforts will be driven by your priorities; we will keep our doors open and ease trade with Africa; we will deal in digital evolution to improve devolution, expand education and health care and improve financial literacy through digital literacy,” said Modi.
The address by the visiting Prime Minister is provided for in Rule 220(2) which provides that “distinguished persons from within or without the nation may be allowed by the Speaker to address the House on any matter of importance.”
Modi listed agriculture, challenges of climate change, cooperation in cyber security and elimination of terrorism and extremism as the fulcrum of Uganda-India cooperation. To this end, Modi offered Shs780b in trade loans for electricity, agriculture, and healthcare.
Premier Modi offered a yet to be specified grant to construct a Mahatma Ghandi heritage centre in Jinja, where the ashes of their statesman was interred.
Modi is on a two-day state visit to Uganda at the invitation of President Museveni. He arrived in Uganda from Rwanda on 24 July 2018 and met the Indian community. From Uganda, Modi proceeds to South Africa.
Museveni recounted Africa’s long interaction with India, which he said dates back to the Babylon times.
Proclaiming a new dawn, Museveni said Africa’s strategic rise is unstoppable, following the discovery of the “10 bottlenecks” which he said has for so long frustrated the continent.
“Our friends in the world should know that the long night of African subjugation and marginalization is over,” he said.
Museveni welcomed the offer, saying Uganda welcomes especially medical cooperation and value addition with interest.
“If the Indian groups can invest here to deal with some of the issues that take people to India [like the medical tourism], it will be very good,” he said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga listed Ugandans of Indian descent in high offices, saying the cooperation was scuttled by former President Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians in 1972.
“This is the first time that a sitting Indian Prime Minister will address the Parliament of Uganda. The Indians have settled in well; we had a dark period of Idi Amin when many Asians were expelled and their property confiscated,” said Kadaga. Modi listed India’s growing cooperation with Africa, saying a total of USD 62b is the new trade portfolio with Africa.
He made mention of Indian peacekeepers who have been amalgamated into the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission, saying a total of 6,000 Indian troops are forming part of several peacekeeping missions.
Modi said the cooperation will be anchored on “terms that will be comfortable to you, liberate your potential and not constrain your future.”
“We will depend on local capacity and create more local opportunity,” he added.
China has intensified trade and relations with African countries, in what many see as angling for the continent’s vast market and cheap labour.
Economic giants, China and India, are in an aggressive scramble for African markets, following United States of America’s inward looking foreign policy in the wake of its controversial president Donald Trump.