Ambassador Grace Akello

I salute you from India, the ancient land of sages and gurus.  Through the giant portal of this sub-continent of a country, Uganda enters into the world of lofty Himalayas in Nepal, the terminus of the mighty Ganges in Bangladesh and the 335 kilometre flow of the Mahaweli in Sri Lanka. The Uganda High Commission in New Delhi is strategically located at the heart of the world’s fastest economic growth vertex; and the world's largest spice market. The fast economic growth for which India is the envy of the world, has been spiced by factors some of which are dubbed constraints in African countries, including Uganda. The most prominent of such factors is India's largely youthful population, making up more than 70% of the total population.  India being the second largest host to humanity on Planet Earth, currently has 1,354,051,850 people, compared to the 1,415,045,920 people to be found in the largest host to humanity on earth: China.

India has shown the world that the youth dividend is a potent force once it is properly harnessed and put to appropriate use. Thus her youth are found in industry and manufacturing, in business and trade, in science and scientific research and innovation, in ICT and related fields, etc. These young people power her administrative machinery, including the army, police and security, ensuring a stable environment which is the base for confident investment and economic growth.

These are lessons that Uganda seeks to learn from India: the lessons of drawing economic growth and development pathways and following them; with flexibility as needed. They include lessons of engaging her own youthful population in productive economic activities through models which India has successfully experimented with.  These are village associations (panchayats), cooperatives, micro, small and medium enterprises as well as large-scale manufacturing and industrial enterprises.  They involve various forms of specialisations within the country, such that each of the 29 States is a hub of a particular economic specialism; thus effectively pursuing the much sought after balanced growth. And they cover trade: within and between the states of India, regional trade with ASEAN as well as international trade.

India is one centre of learning for Uganda through her High Commission based in New Delhi. But the world of the Orient, to which Uganda is ushered through New Delhi, offers many other prototypes for economic growth and development. The successful story of the structural transformation of Singapore is an outstanding lesson that Uganda will want to learn. So is the quiet revolution that has moved Bangladesh from severe food shortages of yesteryears to one of the rice baskets of the world. 

The warm relations which exist between Uganda and India, for the past 100 years, provide free passage for Uganda to satiate her thirst and appetite from these Oriental fountains, as she strives for socio-economic transformation in line with her Vision 2040.