KAMPALA — Uganda and Somalia will continue to bolster their bilateral relations, a top diplomat told reporters—confirming that both countries are set to sign additional pacts before 2022 ends.
Maj Gen Nathan Mugisha, the Deputy Head of Mission at Uganda’s Embassy in Mogadishu says that the recent Joint Permanent Commission held in Kampala helped both countries to review a number of cooperation areas including signing and formalizing a set of others in Defence and Investment.
Maj. Gen Mugisha told reporters that Uganda and Somalia also seek sign a much sought-after Memorandum of Understanding on immigration and customs.
Others, he said will be between Uganda National Bureau of Standards and Somalia’s standards body on top of fast tracking the bilateral air service agreement.
“These are MoU drafts to be signed between now and December,” Mugisha said, noting that the intervention to pacify the war-ravaged Somalia has helped Kampala score a number of diplomatic points with the global North.
“In this regard, we keep mobilizing the business community in Uganda to explore a variety of opportunities in Somalia and likewise.”
Although Uganda has contributed a lot to the relative stability in Somalia, trade relations between the two countries are at best patchy, he added, explaining that there are vast untapped opportunities that can be exploited by Ugandans in Somalia and vice versa.
“Prospects for business between Uganda and Somalia are under-based in population sizes, production typology and imports for consumption as well as air-connectivity.”
Trade statics show that in 2020, Uganda exported goods worth $ 676,000 to Somalia and the main products included aircraft parts ($544,000), Rolled Tobacco ($ 102,000), and beer ($ 16,000).
“In 2018, Somalia imported goods worth $ 2,406million, mainly food including tobacco, sugar and sugar confectionery, rice, packed juice, energy drinks, palm oil, pasta, baking flour, chicken, eggs, natural honey, coffee, tea and spices, most of which Uganda produces. Others were fuel, construction materials and manufactured goods including fabric, footwear, pharmaceutical products, plastics, ceramic tile, plywood, timber, etc and khat,” Maj Gen Mugisha said.
According to records, there are over 2,500 Ugandans working in Somalia for international NGOs, embassies and private companies whereas the embassy in Mogadishu in liaison with the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) in Kampala, handles an average of 1,000 visa applications per month for travel to Uganda.
There are four direct flights from Entebbe to Mogadishu by Uganda Airlines.