what are YOU doing to bring billionaires and serious people to Uganda?


I AM not one of those Ugandans dismayed that billionaire (in United States dollar terms) Jack Ma visited Kenya and Rwanda but skipped Uganda. Dismay is a little too light a word for the feeling I got when the news broke that he was going to go right over and past us.

My bad feeling was more over the fact that he came along WITH 38 other Chinese billionaires and all of them did not stop over in Uganda or even mention the country as they flew over us.

One angry young lady this week ranted at me over the very idea that as Jack Ma made his decision to visit East Africa he must surely have looked at the map of the region and must have noticed Uganda on it.

“Not only that, he must have flown over Uganda to get to Kigali, and then he flew over us again to get from Kigali to Nairobi. It takes at least one hour to fly across Uganda. Is it possible that he did not once look out of the window and wonder what is going on down there?”

Her anger was amusing to witness, as were the comments on a few WhatsApp groups where people were indignant over Jack Ma leaving Uganda off his East African itinerary.

“Really, why is Uganda always being left out of these things? Zuckerberg, Obama, Ma…why do we only get musicians and politicians??!” wrote one aggrieved Ugandan.

I am not unhappy about the visits by musicians and politicians because they also bring a certain level of value. But the fact that these 39 billionaires swung by and didn’t stop over in Uganda was really irksome.

As the miffed young lady stated, as he was going to Kigali, Rwanda he and his 38 billionaire friends most probably flew right over Uganda. Being accomplished persons there is no way they could have ignored the entire stretch of country over which their plane flew. Then, on their way backwards to Nairobi, Kenya, they did the trip again and so must be aware of our existence.

That’s why I think it can’t be easy to be in charge of trade and investment in  Uganda right now. The people in charge of those dockets, including the foreign service staff in countries where people like Jack Ma operate, are probably being asked uncomfortable questions over why they didn’t ensure that the 39 Chinese billionaires come to Uganda. Read this: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/21/africa/jack-ma-kenya-visit/index.html

All employees of the Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda Export Promotion Board, Private Sector Foundation, Ministries to do with things like Finance, Investment, Trade, Tourism, Agriculture and so on and so forth, must be kicking themselves. Read this: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/China-Jack-Ma-market-Kenya-abroad/2560-4025556-hwgewfz/index.html

I genuinely sympathize with them because when people read those tens of thousands of stories on the internet about Jack Ma and 38 other billionaires visiting both countries on either side of Uganda, they must look askance at all these officials. Read this: https://ecommerceguide.com/news/jack-ma-visits-east-africa-inspire-next-generation-african-ecommerce-leaders/

Besides the fact that the Ma’s could have spent a few of their hard earned Dollars and Yuan within this economy, if the 39 billionaires had gone to the National Parks, stopped to eat a Rolex, or toured our cultural sites, they would have brought these to the attention of more than a billion Chinese people.

If Jack Ma and his 38 billionaire pals had engaged with 39 (or 390) brilliant, energetic, young Ugandan entrepreneurs, then imagine how much kickstart those kids would receive and then inject into the economy! Read this: https://www.cio.co.ke/news/on-his-first-ever-visit-to-africa-jack-ma-set-to-visit-kenya/

The fact that the speeches he has made have already gone viral on our social media and project the countries he visited in a very positive and favourable light.

Uganda should learn the value of these interactions and visits, basing on the learnings provided by the likes of Jack Ma. Every time we get these billionaires visiting or hanging around, our image out there changes significantly.

The inspiration he gave to hundreds of youths in Rwanda and Kenya will be felt in those economies in days and weeks to come – not years – while ours over here… (insert an optimistic conclusion here). Read this:  http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/t1479529.htm

His life story on its own is inspiring in ways that should change the tone of many of our frustrated youth here. Read this: https://www.theafricandream.net/alibaba-founder-jack-ma-asias-richest-man-visit-east-africa/

We all have a role to play in getting people like Jack Ma here, just as we have a role to play in making their visits make sense. The government official who is supposed to spend time and effort inviting the Jack Ma’s and encouraging them to visit is as important to the process as the random Ugandan posting positive comments about the country that might land in Jack Ma’s google alerts inbox.

This guy, if you are still blank as to why he is important, is currently the richest person in Asia and the 14th richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$41.8 billion, as of June 2017.

It is said that his company, Ali Baba, is worth more than Facebook and processes more transactions than eBay and Amazon combined. (I did not verify this). alibaba.com is with more than US$231billion on its own.

During his visit to Kenya, Ma announced a US$10million fund for African Young Entrepreneurs – out of his own pocket. Plus, he kick started an initiative to work with UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), to which he is an advisor, to take 200 budding African businesspeople to China to learn hands-on from alibaba.com. Read this: http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1525.

PLUS, he wants “to roll out a partnership with African universities to teach internet technology, artificial intelligence and e-commerce.”

As a country we are doing business with hundreds or perhaps thousands of Chinese people, all aimed at national development and wealth creation, but whose combined wealth and influence in the world of business and entrepreneurship might not be as serious as Jack Ma’s.

Why does Uganda always get left out? Because you and I and those government officials who are responsible for bringing such people here are NOT doing out jobs right.

6 thoughts on “what are YOU doing to bring billionaires and serious people to Uganda?

  1. First of all, you identify the company as Ali Baba yet it is Alibaba. Just to note Ali Baba, from the folk tale “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” is a poor woodcutter who discovers a secret to the thieves’ den.

    Second, Facebook is more valuable than Alibaba with a margin of over USD 100Bn in market cap.

    *Third, I disagree with both your argument and premise because …https://niinye.avalanch.me/heres-why-jack-ma-didn-t-come-to-uganda-ae93429e1efa

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  2. Do you know what it feels like to sit in a class and hear the professor talk about ICT policy implementations from Rwanda and Kenya and totally miss out Uganda?! Or what it’s like to put up your hand and ask about Uganda and realize.. Even you have no clue.

    So I made it my own initiative to carry the flag when and where I can. First of all, learning about my own country/identity and then seeking to educate others about it.

    It’s sad that the 40-person entourage did not visit Uganda… but I know several Ugandan youth who made it a priority to attend that conference and it is from those that the ripple will begin to work.

    What stopped other Ugandans from signing up for the different conferences? It is true that we are our own worst enemies… Just because we are the Pearl does not entitle us to visitors…

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  3. Watch the space. Bringing Ma n his billionaire buddies to Uganda is on thought. But have you considered that its possible there’s nothing much he can do in ug? Come to think about it…. Why would he bring his hard-earned yuan to be possibly squandered by corrupt hands?

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  4. Your attitude – THAT is what we need more of in this country. Each of us doing the little we can, and either pushing or shaming those who are actually paid to do more so that they do what they are charged with.

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  5. a thought provoking post, i think that Uganda has a long way to getting to where we want to be , simply because only 1% of the population thinks this way, another percentage is embroiled in poverty and their needs come first and a larger percentage doesnt know better, so how do we create awareness for the need for more as a country? how do we sensitize people on wealthy mindsets and a healthy esteem, if we cannot even root for our own productions , how else will we appreciate others? the dynamics of Uganda is complex and I believe the root cause is our inability to see wealth in ourselves. it starts with us to see our worth, plow it enough to attract billionaires to us

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