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Solid Uganda-India Relations Tempered by COVID-19

Monday, 20th July 2020


Uganda and India have stood shoulder to shoulder in the current fight against COVID-19 and its socio-economic consequences. India being the more developed of the two countries, has shared with Uganda the fruits of technological advance from her highly developed pharmaceutical and textile industries.  Acting as the good friend of Uganda that India has always been, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was only a phone call away when President Museveni needed to talk to him about the COVID-19 situation in Uganda. After that solidarity call, Uganda got an emergency kit of essential medical supplies to strengthen her fight against the global pandemic. With these drugs put to good use, Uganda has to-date registered zero deaths from coronavirus;  and has been able to record high levels of recovery of patients diagnosed with the virus. 

Hardly a fortnight after their heads of government had spoken, it was the turn of the Minister of External Affairs of India, the Hon Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and his counterpart the Hon Sam Kutesa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda; to speak on the phone. Soon after their discussion, Indian pharmaceutical technology was linked to CIPLA Quality Chemicals Limited,a Uganda-India partnership  pharmaceutical firm. Meanwhile on the side of Indian textile enterprise, an Indian firm in Solapur was put to work express on producing thousands of masks specially made in India for Uganda.

The solidarity between the two countries was further evident when both made special opening of their air spaces to allow stranded nationals and residents to return home. India was the first to open her air space for special repatriation flights for Ugandan returnees on 30th June and 4th July, 2020. In special repatriation flights by FLY DUBAI and Air Tanzania, Uganda flew home about 400 of its nationals and residents who had been stranded in India since the March, 2020 lockdown.  Apart from the returnees, there was a special bonus aboard the 4th July flight. On this flight was newly appointed Indian High Commissioner to Uganda, Ambassador Ajay Kumar and his family; who had not been able to report to his new duty station due to the lockdown. Ambassador Kumar and his family are now at home in India House, the official residence of the High Commissioner of India to Uganda; observing the mandatory quarantine.

This week Indian nationals and residents stranded in Uganda are being flown to Mumbai and to Kerala in special repatriation flights organised by the Indian High Commission; and by the Uganda Indian Association in Kampala.

Despite COVID-19 and its ravages, Uganda and India have continued to work together in areas covering international cooperation such as International Solar Alliance (ISA) preparations for the 3rd ISA Assembly in October; to areas covering entrepreneurship training and business incubation by the Indian Lemon School of Entrepreneurship based in Nagpur.  The Uganda Mission in New Delhi is also working with a wide range of prospective investors who are getting their plans polished up in readiness for travel to Uganda upon the opening of international air space.