Uganda and Italy have enjoyed close historical ties especially in the fields of trade, tourism, health, education and defense cooperation. Some of the leading hospitals and education institutions in the country were founded by Italian missionaries, and trade and business between the two countries has been growing steadily over recent decades. The Current Ambassador H.E Mazzanti Massimilliano as fervently boosted the cooperation between Uganda and Italy ensuring meaningful relations with focus on trade promotion, health support programs and defense corporation. In march 2021, he presided over the Great Lakes Region Peace Summit in which H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was honored as the Great Lakes Region Peace Champion by Public Opinions in appreciation of his contribution towards ensuring peace and stability in the region, combating transnational terrorism and ensuring cooperation.
H.E Mazzanti has been committed to a stable and peaceful Uganda with formidable Democratic Institutions. He is against violence and tribal sentiments.
Although the official relations between Italy and Uganda formally took off only from the Uganda Independence, in 1962, the bilateral relations between the two Countries have deep roots which date back to the beginning of the last century.
Since early twentieth century, many Italian Missionaries (especially the Comboni Missionaries) have carried out a commendable work in supporting the local population and in initiating a dialogue with the Ugandan Authorities while, in 1906, the Duke of the Abruzzi was one of the first explorers to travel to most remote regions of the Country and was the first to climb Mount Stanley – the highest mountain of the Rwenzoris, whose peak (5109 m) was renamed “Margherita” (an Italian name).
H.E Mazzanti Massimilliano Ambassador of Italy to Uganda, Hon desire Muhooza Public opinions Official and H.E Patrick Bitature a recipient of the Uganda Responsible Investment Mark of Excellence as a social Investment Champion of the Year 2021 from Public Opinions at a Public Opinions function at Kabira Country club on 31s March 2021
The Italian Development Cooperation and our NGOs have in recent decades contributed to consolidate Italy’s image and to strengthen relations with Uganda through considerable interventions, especially in health, education and agribusiness sectors.
Over the years the bilateral relations grew alongside solid political, economic and social directions, both at multilateral (United Nations) and regional (IGAD) levels; Italy also supports the integration process within the East African Community).
The link between Italy and Uganda is very deep and it dates back to the early twentieth century when some members of the order of the ‘Comboni Missionaries’ settled in the northern areas of the country implementing a commendable activity of support to the local communities, in particular, in the areas of health and education. Even today, several hospitals built by the Italian missionaries continue to represent a point of reference for Ugandans in the most remote areas.
From an institutional point of view, cooperation relationship was formalized, for the first time, in 1974 with the signing of a bilateral agreement. Currently, the activities of the Italian cooperation are governed by a memorandum of understanding signed with the Ugandan government in 1993 followed by a three-year strategic guideline drawn by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) which is contained in the Planning and Guideline document for 2017-2019.
Over the years, in addition to having cancelled a debt of 115 million dollars to Uganda on the basis of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, Italy has contributed to the growth of the country with more than 100 million euros both in bilateral and multilateral interventions and promotion of NGOs.
Funds have been engaged in the areas of agriculture and water, institutional support, emergencies, school reforms and especially in health care. The latter has become the main area of intervention, with the aim of strengthening health systems and guaranteeing access to services by the weakest sections of the population living in the poorest urban and rural areas.
Finally, Italy is close to Uganda because of its response to humanitarian emergency needs arising from the crisis in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
Main Italian Cooperation Initiatives
Amongst the main ongoing bilateral initiatives of the Italian Cooperation, it is worth to mention the project “Support for the Ugandan National Strategic Health Plan and the plan for peace, reconstruction and development” (AID 9108), worth a total of 12.500.000 euros. The program has allowed an expansion of the delivery of basic health services in the regions of Karamoja and Acholi (North Uganda).
The project has favored the integration of public and private services in the national health framework and has improved the quality of diagnostic services for tuberculosis (both at central and peripheral levels). Amongst the main components of the initiative which have already been commissioned: a contribution to UNICEF for the enhancement of maternal and child healthcare; a contribution to WHO for the struggle against multi-resistant TBC; several minor activities delivered directly by the Cooperation Office in Kampala.
H.E Mazzanti Massimilliano The Ambassador of Italy to Uganda with Luzindana Adam Buyinza the CEO/Team Leader of Public Opinions International after a High Level meeting on responsible Investment.
A last component of the project, directly implemented by the Government of Uganda through Italian financing and monitoring, is currently being finalized. The initiative consists in the construction of staff houses for the medical and health personnel in the Karamoja Region (one of the most remote and least developed areas of the country). The project “Integrated health intervention in North Uganda at university, hospital and district level”, worth € 2,413,680, funded the construction, clinical activities and equipping of the radiology department of Gulu Regional Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital in Lacor. It has also offered training courses to students of the Faculty of Medicine in the districts of Gulu and Amuru, with particular attention to mental health in post-conflict situations.
Currently, a further substantial support plan is being studied with the objective of continuing to strengthen the Ugandan national health system.
The Italian Cooperation is active in Uganda also through support to NGOs who, rooted in the territory carry out commendable jobs that assist the efforts of local communities in the fight against poverty, drought, lack of adequate educational and health services and which favour fostering opportunities for family and economic development.
At present, on the basis of the 2017 CSO call issued by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the Corti Foundation received a financing of € 750.000 to strengthen the pediatric services and empowerment of health personnel in the Acholi region (north of the country). On the same course, COOPSVILUPPO has been financed with € 1.170.000 to improve the nutritional and educational standards of the Moroto and Napak communities (Karamoja). The project will be implemented in partnership with CUAMM. The NGO AVSI has been financed with 449,909 euros to maximize the impact against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in 8 districts of the Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda.
At multilateral level, over the years, many initiatives have been financed through the United Nations agencies and International Institutions.
For the biennium 2016-2017, euros 1,034,748 were allocated to the World Health Organization (WHO) to conform tobacco taxation policies of some African countries (including Uganda) to sustainable development, and euros 200,000 to the initiative promoted by the International Organization for Migrants (IOM) aimed at improving the psycho-social conditions of individuals exposed to the devastating effects of the crisis in Burundi. Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa through the reduction of transmission of animal trypanosomiasis (transmitted by the tsetse fly) has been added, running at FAO in several countries of the sub-region (GCP / RAF / 502 / ITA)
The Italian Cooperation also promotes opportunities of cooperation for profit through selection of innovative entrepreneurial initiatives eligible to financing / co-financing and to be implemented in cooperation partner countries.
With Resolution no. 34/2017 related to the “Call for innovative ideas and entrepreneurial initiatives for development”, among the winning projects, the initiative presented by Absolute Energy was awarded because it had the objective which promotes access to productive energy and economic development on the island of Bukasa, Kalangala District.
In collaboration with the United Nations and some NGOs, Italy is supporting Ugandan government in managing the dramatic forced exodus flows of refugees generated by the crisis in South Sudan (defined by various observers as the “biggest humanitarian emergency in Sub-Saharan Africa”).
Also in honor to the commitments taken during the Solidarity Summit held in Kampala on the 22nd and 23rd June 2017 , Italy has allocated approximately 2,300,000 euros in response to the above crisis. The funds were used to support the UNHCR activities in the management of asylum seekers present in the country (1,000,000 euros) and to send, in collaboration with the United Nations logistic headquarters in Brindisi, a humanitarian cargo valued at some 300,000 euros containing first aid and relief goods, as well as to finance the following bilateral initiatives entrusted to the OSC for a total amount of 952,551 euros:
- SURE: support and response to humanitarian emergency of South Sudanese refugees at Rhino Camp, Arua District, Uganda (AVSI-ACAV)
- Emergency initiative in the sectors of health, nutrition, agriculture, water and protection and inclusion of children in favor of refugees and displaced persons, victims of humanitarian crisis in South Sudan(AMREF-INTERSOS)
- Action in support of the School of Peace in favour of refugee families in the District of Adjumani, Uganda(community of Saint Egidio ACAP Onlus)
In addition, the project of AVSI and ACAV (formerly AICS 11211) was approved in May 2018. The RISE project – Integrated Response in Support to the refugee emergency and community hosting a field of Rhino, District of Arua has obtained a funding of 990,716.55 euro and will intervene in the sectors of water and hygiene, agriculture and food security, protection, protection and inclusion of minors.
In late November 2018 a new Not for Profit – Emergency call for proposal (11546) – was awarded which endorsed and funded the following projects:
• (CESVI/AVSI) ICCROSS Cross Border Intervention for South Sudanese refugees, returnees and host communities at Palabek camp at Lamwo district (Uganda) and Ikotos County (South Sudan): valued at €803,175 (of which €588,532 is Ugandan component);
• (C&S/ACAP) Empowerment of refugees’ communities and host communities at Maaji 3 and Nyumanzi, to ensure a favorable environment for income-generating activities for youth and women through formal education and vocational training: valued at €409,286.
On 5 June 2019, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) approved the project ForeSeeing Inclusion – Salute Visiva e Disability Mainstreaming in Nord Uganda (OSC 2018 announcement), presented by the NGO “CBM (Christian Blind Mission) Together we can do more”. The initiative received funding of 1,398,454 euros. CBM has been working for decades in Uganda trying to implement practices to prevent blindness, improving health facilities and supporting people with disabilities to access education and health care / rehabilitation within their community.
With reference to political relations, cooperation is very strong in the security sector within the framework of the United Nations AMISOM Mission for the stabilization of Somalia and at bilateral level following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian “Carabinieri” and the Uganda Police Force on 20th May 2015 during the visit to Kampala of the Italian Commander General of the Carabinieri, Gen. Tullio Del Sette.
The strength of the relations between Italy and Uganda is also evidenced by the several high level meetings that took place between the Authorities of the two Countries among others, the visit of the Deputy Minister Pistelli in August 2013; the meeting in Rome between President Museveni and the Italian Defense Minister, Pinotti, in October 2014; the visits of the Minister for Trade Kyambadde and President Museveni to Milan Expo 2015; the visits of the Commander General of the Carabinieri in Kampala (2015 and 2016), during which a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ugandan Police Force was signed and a wider regional cooperation with EAPCCO was discussed (an MoU between Carabinieri and EAPCCO was signed in Kigali in early 2017).
Italy actively participates in the coordination of the European Union Policy in Uganda, especially in the areas of political, trade, cultural and development cooperation.
The Italian presence in Uganda is highly recognized and appreciated. It has been a multiplier for trade relations, in which infrastructure has traditionally been the most privileged sector.
Although the value of the Italian direct investments (joint ventures, investments and acquisitions) in Uganda is still limited, the Country’s political and economic indicators appear, at the moment, particularly promising for the Italian companies. The trade exchange between Italy and Uganda is growing steadily (plus 45% in the last three years).
At the moment, the sectors which appear to offer greater opportunities for our entrepreneurial system, in particular for the small and medium-sized enterprises, include: Oil and its induct; Renewable energy; Tourism; Civil and Road Works; Drilling of wells; Mechanics and Joinery; Catering and Accommodation; Business-related activities (groceries, coffee, lifts, aluminium joinery, woodworking machinery, marble and granite).
East Africa has emerged in area with higher development rate in sub-Saharan Africa. has created a conducive environment for the access of new Italian companies in an internal and regional markets in expansion and integration: in particular, Ugandan membership to the East African Community (characterized by increasing customs and taxation integration, regulations and factors of production and by a project of monetary integration to be achieved in the next five years), opens the door to a wider market of over 150 million consumers in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
In recent years, a series of trade promotion events have given the Italian companies the chance to acquire better knowledge of the opportunities existing on the Ugandan market. To this end, the creation of an Association of the Italian entrepreneurs in Uganda, known as “Business Club Italy” (inaugurated in Kampala in May 2012 by the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Staffan De Mistura) has strengthened the synergies between the Embassy in Kampala and entrepreneurs. In 2017 and 2018 the opening of a desk of the Italian Trade Agency (ICE) at the Embassy in Kampala allowed a tangible intensification of promotional events and the upgrading of services in favor of Italian companies in Uganda and Rwanda (entrepreneurial missions, country presentation, B2B, participation to international fairs).
It is also worth mentioning that the Italian pavillon won the prize as best national pavillon of the International Trade Fair of Kampala 2018.
Cultural and scientific cooperation
The Italian language and culture are promoted in Uganda through a structured program of events organized by the Embassy of Italy on the basis of the guidelines issued by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation. Several thematic exhibitions take place annually; the first amongst all is the Italian Cultural and Culinary Week of the Italian Language and the Italian Cuisine in the world, which usually takes place in October/November.
The Embassy of Italy has facilitated the birth of the Cultural Association of the Italians in Uganda (CAIU) which has now become an important partner of many cultural events organized in favor of the Ugandan public and the Italian community. The Embassy supports various initiatives of CAIU, amongst which the Saturday Morning Italian Language School in favor of the children of the Italian Community and the Italian Language Courses for the General Public.
A Scientific Cooperation is also intense with a number of student and professor exchanges between major Italian and Ugandan universities. In particular, the University of Turin – through its Department of Culture, Politics and Society – is running an Ethnological Mission in Equatorial Africa, a project in the ethnographic/anthropological field funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and implemented in cooperation with the University of Makerere (http://www.missioneetnologica.unito.it/homengl.htm).
The Cultural office of the Italian Embassy offers information and advice about enrolment in the Italian schools and universities, as well as issuing the necessary legalizations and declarations of value.
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