By Michael Woira
Last week, I managed to have a chance to travel around the country with diplomats who were recently appointed by the president to represent Uganda in the various Missions abroad. The whole idea of the trip was to expose and ideologically align Uganda’s Ambassadors towards the Country’s industrial and Economic initiatives as a means to achieving social economic transformation.
At the end of the field trip, the ambassadors having a one week engagement at the National Leadership Institute-NALI (Kyankwanzi) to evaluate performance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassies and Missions and also build capacities to excel in the fields of Economic and Commercial Diplomacy.
I have learnt a few things here and I will be so diplomatic in this piece of writing so that the person reading it can also pick some lines and understand what our ambassadors are doing.
First of all, a successful ambassador is a powerful asset for Uganda’s diplomacy, the right person can improve a foreign public’s perception for their country and can establish critical business or trade relationships, or turn an adversary into an ally. An unprepared or unfit diplomat, on the other hand can damage the credibility of a country with international partners.
Uganda’s ambassadors carry great responsibility in their roles as chief diplomats. They personally represent President Museveni and all Ugandans abroad, overseeing embassy operations in the countries with which our country maintains diplomatic relations. Their performance can change how foreign governments and their citizens view us as a country.
The primary objective of an ambassador is to serve as the eyes and ears of the government while maintaining effective communications with the host government, which is easier if the host government views the ambassador as an individual of influence and; all I know is that by the time the President appoints someone, he knows what they are capable of doing.
Our ambassadors are tasked with conveying Uganda’s interests and telling the story of our country as it is to relevant constituencies in the host country. This means connecting to local leaders and the public at large. But to do so with ease, an ambassador must first understand what our country has so that he or she markets it better in the host country.
Experience in diplomacy and geopolitical matters is key, but it is also very important for ambassadors to understand our business interests. As the ambassador is part of the sales team for Ugandan enterprises overseas, his/ her role is also to get countries to invest here and generate jobs for more employment opportunities.
According to my observation, I think ambassadors need to be very effective, and expert advocates for Uganda’s business interests. Not only should they seek out prospects for the sale of goods and services, but when problems arise effective ambassadors must bring leadership, diplomacy, and negotiating skills to help in corporations, stakeholder ship, and even political rivals resolving their differences which is exactly being done by a number of them.
During this particular field visit, we visited The Sugar Corporation of Lugazi (SCOUL), and the Cable Company that is also under Mehta Group and the leadership of Mehta Group asked the ambassadors to market the cables and the Sugar to their various missions abroad.
SCOUL aside, the ambassadors visited Kiira Motors plant in Jinja at Mutai where our own Kayoola Diesel, Solar and Electric Buses will be assembled from and while here, they appreciated the work that government is doing and this got them surprised. Now such a project will enable us as a country have good business abroad if our ambassadors market it so well as they promised.
Mbale Industrial park was the other destination where the ambassadors went and while here, they visited a number of factories that are producing different products and employing thousands of locals from Mbale and surrounding districts. This setting is particularly in line with the NDPIII idea of industrialization and job creation.
This idea of a diplomat knowing his/ her country should be taken down to even local leaders so that they are all aware of what we have as a country because I have realized that some of our people especially those from the LEFT are always against government because they don’t really know what it is doing. They need to at least have chance to visit such projects and get in touch with the people who are benefiting from them.
Infact, it should be compulsory for institutions like Parliament and Local Governments to take its staff around the country to visit such installations so that they do marketing of our country without assumptions and doubts.
Michael Woira, Patriotic Ugandan