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Uganda keen to sign pact with India for easier study, job permits

New Delhi, Oct 8 (Calcutta Tube) With over 800 Ugandan students in India, which has emerged as a preferred destination for higher studies among African nations, Kampala is keen to sign a pact with New Delhi to make it easier for study visas and short-term job permits.

‘We are discussing the work visa issue with Indian authorities. Hundreds of our Ugandan students who are studying here are also keen to work but are not allowed even part-time jobs,’ Uganda’s Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi said.

‘Children of any person of Indian origin born in Uganda gets citizenship automatically. In fact we treat Indians as our own and want the same treatment for Ugandans in India,’ Bakkabulindi, also a member of Ugandan parliament representing workers, told IANS in an interview here.

‘Our students really like it here and also want to work here for some time.’

According to the Ugandan High Commission here, over 800 Ugandan students pursue higher studies at various universities in India, mostly in the national capital, at any given time.

Uganda has already signed a pact with India to facilitate the flow of investment and trade and several Indian corporate groups including telecom-to-retail major Bharti Enterprises and the diversified conglomerate Tatas have invested over $1.8 billion in Uganda so far.

‘It is time we also had a pact on student visas and work permits,’ said Bakkabulindi.

‘Indian companies are playing a significant role in the growth and development of Uganda. So is the case in many other African countries. We urge Indian companies to increase their investments in Uganda,’ he added.

‘We assure a business-friendly environment.

With bilateral trade pegged at around $1.1 billion, Uganda is India’s largest trading partner in the Central African region, officials said. India’s exports to Uganda rose over 40 percent and imports from Uganda by 30 percent last year.

The minister said the target was to double bilateral trade in the next two-three years.

In a bid to strengthen trade and economic ties, India and Uganda have also signed double taxation avoidance treaty, Bakkabulindi said, adding the two countries should also enter into a free trade agreement with African countries, including Uganda, to boost trade.

‘There is a huge potential to increase trade. Free trade agreements will be beneficial for both the regions,’ he said and urged Indian companies to take advantage of Uganda’s membership of the East African Community.

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be contacted at gyanendra.k@ians.in and biz@ians.in)

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