Government Seeks Positive Media Coverage to Boost Uganda’s Investment, Tourism

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By Namutebi Sumayiya

In a bid to boost Uganda’s investment and tourism sector, government officials are calling on media professionals to highlight the country’s positive attributes rather than focusing on the negative sentiments.

This call was made during a meeting hosted by Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House Investors Protection Unit (SHIPU) at the unit’s offices in Kampala on Friday, July 5, 2024.

In attendance were various government communication officers and members of the media fraternity.

During her opening remarks, Col. Nakalema emphasised the vital role that government communicators play in shaping Uganda’s economic prospects. She urged media professionals to focus on reassuring investors and tourists about Uganda’s economic stability and growth opportunities.

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“You are key in fostering investor confidence and national development,” she stated, underscoring the necessity of maintaining a positive tone in communications.

The SHIPU head added: “You need to ensure that your communication influences public opinion about our country and its economic growth. Investor confidence in our economy is of paramount importance, and we all have a role to play in promoting our country.”

Col. Nakalema further stressed the importance of disseminating accurate and relevant information about government priorities.

She noted that effective communication is crucial for investors to identify viable opportunities and for boosting overall investor confidence.

“We must make it easier for investors to see the potential in our economy through communication that targets investment and tourism,” she said.

Prof. Pamela Mbabazi, chair of the National Planning Authority, encouraged communicators to contribute insights on enhancing Uganda’s appeal to investors and tourists.

“We are on a journey to double our digital growth and attract more investment and tourism,” she said.

“We must communicate in a way that attracts investment, tourism, and fosters economic growth.We are all Ugandans, and we love our country. It is our collective duty to portray Uganda as the Pearl of Africa.”

Dr. Aminah Zawedde, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance emphasised the role of transparency and accountability in building trust among investors.

“Good communication is critical for attracting businesses and promoting our country’s image. Transparency and accountability are cornerstones of building trust with investors. We must be patriotic and work to win over those interested in investing in our country,” she stated.

Ms. Mercy Kainobwisho, the Registrar General of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) pointed out the need for self-promotion to counter negative perceptions.

Uganda has a lot to offer and we need to highlight our strengths,” she said, advocating for a balanced narrative that includes the country’s achievements.

Brig. Felix Kulayigye, the Director of Defence Public Information highlighted the need for a national service program to foster a patriotic mindset among Ugandans.

“We are Ugandans at mouth not at heart,” he stated, underscoring the importance of instilling national pride.

Brig. Kulayigye highlighted the critical role of communication as a powerful instrument, pointing out that the government has not invested enough in this area.

He questioned the motivations behind the media’s content, urging journalists to consider the impact of their work on the country’s image.

“What are you speaking or writing for? Who are you doing it for? What is your motive?” he asked.

Brig. Kulayigye called for media fairness in favour of Uganda, arguing that promoting negative stories harms the nation’s reputation.

“When you publish biased stories on the front pages of your newspapers, you are burning your home,” he warned, urging journalists to support and protect Uganda’s interests through their reporting.

Mr. Kin Kariisa, the Chief Executive Officer of Next Media Services, emphasised the importance of mutual training between journalists and government officers.

“While we train our journalists on how to deal with riots, it is equally important to train our officers on how to deal with the media,” he stated.

Mr. Kariisa highlighted the need for Ugandans to promote their country positively.

“Every day, people tweet about how Uganda is the worst country ever. I ask, have these people visited other countries to see how bad life can be?” he questioned.

He stressed the necessity of addressing internal perceptions, asserting that once Ugandans have a positive outlook, it will be easier for the country to gain international recognition.

“Once we fix our own mindset, promoting Uganda internationally becomes much simpler,” Mr. Kariisa concluded.

Ms. Brindusa Negrea, Chief Operating Officer of the World Business Journal, commented on Uganda’s international image, stating, “The image of Uganda was pretty bad. I can confirm that. What I want to stress here is that initiation is an instrumental part of power. Everything you say about your country is important—you protect yourself, the truth, and most importantly, the integrity of your government.”

Ms. Negrea noted that headlines focusing on corruption weaken institutions. “When you go on Twitter and simply state that, it undermines the country’s stability,” she explained.

She highlighted that Uganda has a tendency to discuss sensitive issues too openly, leading investors to question the security and investment climate.

“I am surprised by the potential that the country has,” she noted.

“While everyone wants to eradicate corruption, constantly talking about it can backfire. Outsiders will label the country based on what is covered in the media.”

Ms. Negrea emphasised that even small reports about Uganda can shape international perceptions.

“What you write today about Uganda will shape how foreigners perceive you tomorrow,” she concluded.

Mr. Amos Wekesa, the founder of Great Lakes Safaris and Uganda Lodges Limited praised Uganda’s unique beauty.

“Uganda is an extremely unique country. Even when you have travelled to many places, you realise how beautiful our country is.”

He noted that everyone who visits Uganda wishes it was marketed better and highlighted that every citizen can act as a marketer for the country.

Mr. Wekesa encouraged Ugandans to share positive images of the country.

“Every day that you don’t have anything to post, look for a beautiful picture of Uganda and share it,” he said.

He pointed out that tourism is a vital sector and that promoting positive aspects can attract more visitors.

“When a tourist comes here, they don’t come to see negative aspects; they come to experience our country’s beauty,” Mr. Wekesa added.

“Each of us has an opportunity to showcase our country with pride. If you speak badly about the country, it affects all of us. Let’s create high-level content that highlights the best of Uganda,” he concluded.

The meeting ended with Col. Nakalema appealing to media professionals to work collaboratively with government communicators.

“We need to protect and promote Uganda’s image. By focusing on positive stories, we can enhance investor confidence and drive economic growth.”

This meeting was also attended by Ms. Doreen Katusiime, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities, and Mr. Don Wanyama, the Chief Executive Officer of Vision Group, Ms. Marcella Karekye, the Special Presidential Assistant in-charge of Communications and Director of Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), among others.

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