Preparations for Uganda’s participation in the Dubai Expo due to start later this year could run into problems as the organisers cite lack of funds. The expo due to take place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, is the largest international exhibition in the Arab world, with the organisers expecting at least 20M people over the six months.
Exhibitors that are led by government agencies will come from more than 190 countries, according to the confirmations received by 2019. The expo offers all participating countries a big opportunity to attract trade, tourists and Foreign Direct Investments, since this is a rare opportunity to showcase to the whole world in one place, at what the organisers call almost no cost.
The expo should also be used to target Ugandans living in the UAE and other Arab countries to invest back home. It is estimated that Ugandans in the UAE send back to Uganda about $200 million annually, but that most of this is for consumption purposes like education, health and household needs.
“Worth noting is that the UAE hosts an estimated 100,000 Ugandans (most of whom live in Dubai hence the urgent need to establish a consulate there to offer them the ever-burgeoning consular services) an integral part of our esteemed global diaspora rated highly in Uganda’s Vision 2040 and development plans for mobilization as elemental drivers of our country’s economic development”, says Ambassador Henry Mayega, the Deputy Head of Mission, UAE.
Despite the importance of the expo, the Director-General of the Uganda Investments Authority, Lawrence Byensi expresses disappointment that the National Task Force is yet to receive money from the Finance Ministry with just about four months to the start of the expo. He says this is a sign of lack of seriousness on the side of some government agencies responsible for the success of the expo.
The Uganda Exports Promotions Board, UEPB says that this time round Uganda has been given several special offers unlike the previous expos under the same arrangements, and that it will be sad if the country does not take full advantage of them. The new developments include Uganda being separated from the other East African Countries and given its own stand, and a Uganda National Day, according to John Lwere, the Trade Information Executive at the UEPB.
The UIA Boss, Byansi says this expo is not only targeted to the foreign investors, but also the growing large Ugandan diaspora in the UAE. He says this is aimed at ensuring that the Ugandans living there are encouraged to invest home, because they have already shown that they have the capacity, by remitting $200m annually.
The Expo 2020 was originally scheduled to run from October 2020 – to April 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Arab Emirates, and the rest of the world, the dates were revised to October 2021-April 2022.
The International Bureau of Expositions BIE general assembly in Paris named Dubai as the host in 2013. Despite being postponed, organizers opted to maintain the name expo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.
The previous one, the 2015 Milan Expo attracted 22 million visitors and exhibitors from 145 countries. The next one will be held in Osaka, Japan in 2025.