Jackline Apio,first left, Doreen Ruyondo, third from right, with Tuscany Region officials
As part of commercial diplomacy as well as strengthening relations with all countries of its accreditation, Uganda Embassy in Rome has embarked on an outreach programme to selected regions in these countries. The ultimate aim of this activity is to build socioeconomic development cooperation. In Italy, the Mission started by making an analysis of all the regions in the country, noting key economic activities, key industries as well as key SMEs and cooperatives. These are areas of great interest to Uganda, offering learning opportunities to the Mission.
While on a learning curve, Embassy officials also engage their hosts on Uganda's investment and trade potential. Emphasis is laid on the country's open-door policy for investment and its promotion of different partnerships for companies wishing to set up their operational bases/industries in Uganda. The country's linkages with larger markets within the East African Community, the Great Lakes Region, the COMESA Region as well as markets outside Africa; are highlighted. Also highlighted are Uganda's advantages as a business location, including her abundant cheap but trainable labour and other production advantages. All these combine to make Uganda a potentially highly productive country with ready markets in China, in India, Europe as well as in the United States of America: these all being countries with which Uganda has market access arrangements.
Through this outreach programme in Italy, Mission staff going to Emilia-Romagna Region were able to learn of this region's cooperative movement which is specifically focused on the area of farming. Also pertinent to Mission interests was the level of irrigation embedded in the region's agricultural sector. Emilia-Romagna is one of the leading food baskets not only for Italy, but for Europe as well. The annual world famous Macfrut Exhibition, a global panaroma of agricultural products and production processes, which is held in locations within Emilia Romagna, attests to the region's crucial role in agriculture. Discussions held with the region in mid-January were chaired by Dr Rossana Preus, Head of International Relations of the Region.
In Napoli, the headquarters of the Campagna Region, the Mission delegation was received by Ambassador Francesco Caruso, the International Affairs Advisor to the regional President; who also chaired their meetings. The Mission team met with leaders from agriculture, tourism, and trade, agro-processing, the IT sector and officials from Napoli University. The region welcomed close collaboration with Uganda, and welcomed specific delegations on coffee, cotton, cereals or any other commodity in which Uganda has comparative advantage to Italy.
At Florence, the capital of the Italian Region of Tuscany, the Mission team met with a regional team chaired by Dr Maria Jose Caldes, Prof at Meyer University Hospital. She, along with her colleagues are key supporters of CUAM, the Italian medical NGO which funds and provides technical support to many of the operations of Matany, Aber, Oyam, and Lacor Hospitals in Uganda. Here the main advantage for Uganda appears to be working with Italian counterparts who are interested in medical collaboration in the areas of health systems, inequality issues in health; and in the areas of tropical medicine. An exchange programme was suggested in these areas such that medical students' exchanges, the training of physicians, knowledge exchange on tropical diseases would be the core of cooperation between the two friendly countries.