Ambassador Grace Akello


The enormous challenge which I have before me is to serve the interests of one-fifth of humanity or the interests of over 20% of 7.7 billion people in our world today. Of these, the country which mandated me to serve her interests, my homeland Uganda, accounts for only half a percentage point. The megacity of New Delhi, where I am resident, with its 29.5 million people is indicative of the large numbers of humanity to be found in this part of South Asia. Given these large numbers of people and their various interests and aspirations, I always feel highly privileged to serve in this part of the world. My service thus far has been marked by great support and encouragement across all the capitals: from New Delhi to Singapore to Kathmandu. I have had the honour to present my credentials in all the six splendid  capitals:New Delhi my home base, Dacca, Male, Kathmandu, Singapore and Colombo.

From my interaction with all key officials in these cities, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done. In each capital, I have come back with the clear message that all these countries share mutual bilateral as well as multilateral interests with Uganda. Each of them sees her as an important player in all strategic arena of national, regional and international diplomacy.  This is not a surprise since our countries share many histories: of colonialism, of the struggle for freedom and independence, of the solidarity and struggle against oppressive policies such as apartheid and racial discrimination in pre-independence South Africa and Zimbabwe; and of the struggle for international recognition and respect at the United Nations and other international bodies and fora.

Today, the overriding concern of Uganda which she is anxious to share with these countries, is how to leapfrog from a peasant economy and poverty-riddled social base to a modern prosperous economy. This over-arching interest derives from the socioeconomic transformation agenda which the country is pursuing.  The work to be done in this regard is at the heart of my assignment -- the heart of our commercial or economic diplomacy.The impetus and pace for this work is  laid out in our Strategic Vision 2040, whose principal aim is to transform Uganda from a predominantly peasant, low income country to an upper middle income by 2040.

Along this route we have so far implemented two of the five-year strategic plans in to which this Vision is divided. The activities spelt out and implemented in the first two five year development plans of the Vision, have ensured that essential infrastructural basics such as security, power, connectivity and IT are in place. Now we are embarking on the third development plan with one singular aim: to cause industrialisation. I could not wish for a better environment in which to push this agenda than India and the other countries to which I am accredited.

In this part of Asia, examples for the keen transformation student abound. Singapore today is unrecognisable from the Singapore which got independence in 1965, three years after Uganda. Then Uganda and Singapore were comparable in their levels of economic development or underdevelopment. Today, Uganda has barely moved from the level of economic development at independence. Singapore on the other hand, is a first world economy with a per capita income greater than that of many developed countries.

Another good example is my current home base. India  has battled  famine and food shortages occasioned by a peasant agricultural mode; and has been so successful in transforming her agricultural sector that three or four harvests can be realised in one year;and that sector has spawned many SMEs. That is the dream that Uganda is chasing in her third national development plan aimed at agriculture-led industrialisation. As in agriculture, so has India been successful in transforming other sectors of the economy too; especially through her MSME model. We will want to take lessons. And it is from these countries that we invite investment into all economic sectors.