• Authored By: Smartson Ainomugisha
25 Jan 2024

The 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, hosted by Uganda this month came off as a rare success. About 70 heads of State, government, and delegations attended the summit, which ran under the theme “Deepening Cooperation for Shared Global Affluence”.

The Non-Aligned Movement is the second most extensive grouping of nations across the world after the United Nations, comprising 120 member countries, including the whole of the African Union, 26  from the Americas and 39 from the Asia and Pacific sub region. Beyond the members,  NAM has 18 observer countries, including China and Russia, and ten observer multilateral organizations.

Noteworthy is the fact that the NAM makes up more than 55% of the global population of 8 billion people. Therefore, Uganda hosting the NAM summit and chairing the organization for the next three consecutive years marks a historical achievement; Uganda has become the fourth African country after Algeria in 1973, Zimbabwe in 1986, South Africa in 1998, and Egypt in 2009.

The primary objective of the NAM summit is to review progress in implementing the outcomes of the previous summit, in this case, the one held in Baku, Azerbaijan in October 2019, as well as addressing existing, new, and emerging issues of collective concern and interest to the NAM. Such existing concerns include the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, as per the published official NAM Programme.

Consequently, the NAM summit will make Uganda a centre of global focus and attract national, regional, continental, and international media attention. Uganda is also fortunate to host the Third South Summit for Group of 77 (G-77) + China, which will take place from 21st to 23rd January 2024, immediately after the NAM summit.

Worth noting is that there has been a “Whole-of-Government Approach” with different ministries and government agencies involved in organizing and promoting the NAM summit, which is commendable. The excitement of hosting the NAM summit has been evident among top government officials throughout the preparation process and the first day of the summit.

Social media has been awash with jokes about the appeal for Ugandans to put on smiley faces as they welcome guests coming in the country and put aside whatever could be bothering them. It appears that most ordinary citizens have not yet appreciated the benefits associated with hosting the NAM summit and such high level conferences in the country, thus not as excited as top government officials.

It would be important for a Ugandan ordinary citizen to appreciate the benefits that accrue from hosting the NAM summit, at national and individual level. For instance, over thirty (30) Ugandan hotels are providing accommodation services to the guests, thus earning more revenue. The hotels have hired more workers to serve guests, creating jobs for youth and women. In addition, the hotels have increased purchases for agricultural produce, including vegetables and fruits, leading to increased earnings for the farmers.

Ugandans working in the arts and crafts industry will likely make huge sales and reap large profits from the summit, by selling handicrafts products (e.g. basketry, textiles and woven products, leather products, fassion accessories) and souvenirs .

Meanwhile, the tourism entreprises are taking advantage of the summit and aggressively marketing their services online and some have already recorded an increase in bookings. This implies more business revenue and profits as a result of the summit.

Therefore, government should always invest in mass sensitization of Ugandans about the benefits of hosting international conferences and events not only at national level but also to individual citizens.  This way, ordinary Ugandans would more excited to host such conferences and sieze opportunities that come along with these events.

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