As the ceremony of the official opening of the new Ugandan embassy building in Bujumbura kicked off this Monday morning, embassy staff hosted a high level delegation from Uganda that was led by Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda the special envoy of Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni.
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who is the former Uganda prime minister said that the construction of the three storied building for Uganda’s Chancery was yet another sign of the strong ties Gitega and Kampala enjoy.
“The decision of the Government of Uganda to construct this Chancery in Bujumbura was further informed by the strong bond of friendship that our people and governments have built and enjoyed from well before we both attained independence till today,” said the former Ugandan Prime Minister.
“Therefore, this Chancery building before us today does not only testify that our vision of acquiring property abroad is achievable but makes a bold statement that Uganda is here to stay and that Burundi is on the rise, peaceful and a reliable partner in the region,” he added.
Dr. Rugunda hailed Burundi’s government for their foresight and facilitation of the construction process and providing Uganda a land located in Kiyange Village in Bujumbura City, which is approximately 3.25 acres.
“The Government of Uganda also deliberately decided to award the contracts for construction and consultancy to Burundian companies with the sole aim of contributing to the strengthening of local Burundian capacity,” said president Museveni’s special envoy Dr. Ruhakana during the official launching of the new embassy premises.
According to the Ugandan government, due to the increasing costs of renting premises in the various capitals around the World, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came up with a policy of acquiring properties abroad to help reduce on the overhead costs.
Among the guest of honors was Burundi’s foreign affairs minister Albert Shingiro who called on Ugandan business community to boost the partnership and trade between the two countries.
“The government of Burundi under the leadership of President Evariste Ndayishimiye is focuses to strengthen the relations between the two countries and not only government to government but also people to people ties,” said the Burundi’s foreign affairs minister.
“The construction commenced in 2017 but was delayed because of some unforeseen circumstances but more recently the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected international trade, transportation and logistics,” said James Wafula Bichachi Charge d’Affaires who represented Uganda’s ambassador to Burundi retired Maj.Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza.
The Ugandan ambassador to Burundi missed out on the official opening ceremony as he is under medical attention in India.
“At no time did the Mission ever lack funds for this project. All through the three financial years in which this project ran, funds were provided fully,” said Mr. Wafula.
Uganda Embassy in Bujumbura was first opened in August 2009, and for the last 11 years the embassy was housed in Whitestone Building located in Rohero (Bujumbura).
Despite Uganda not sharing any border line with Burundi, Burundi hosts hundreds of Ugandans who are in both formal and informal sectors.
“I wish to report to you that we have a very active and vibrant Ugandan diaspora population in Burundi. They are united under the Association of Ugandans Living in Burundi and are law abiding citizens, engaged in lawful business and employment, which supports their families back home and the country in general,” added Charge d’Affaires of Uganda in Burundi.
Uganda Air to increase flights to Bujumbura
“Yesterday, unlike on previous occasions, I flew here directly from Entebbe by Uganda Airlines. I am also informed that this Airline plies the Entebbe-Bujumbura route four times a week and is set to increase this frequency to six times a week at the end of this month,” said Uganda’s former Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.
Dr. Rugunda said that the move by Uganda Air to increase its flight to Bujumbura is a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to address the barriers to trade, through provision of direct connectivity and ultimately, cutting down the costs of doing business.
The volume of exports from Uganda to Burundi stands at $65million annually according to the Ugandan official, while Uganda imports goods from Burundi estimated worth $25million annually.