Thirty-five years after former dictator Idi Amin booted them out of Uganda, Indians are again returning in large numbers. And they are coming with ideas and investments that are helping to rebuild an economy that was shattered following their exodus. A good example: the recent joint venture between India's United Telecoms Limited (UTL) and Uganda's Jinja Institute of Technology to build a US$200 million ICT and biotechnology park in Uganda. The partners have applied for a license to set up the Lake Victoria Information/Communication Technology and Biotechnology Limited (LAVIT). The application is almost certain to be approved when an ongoing feasibility study confirms the obvious: ventures like this are an essential tool for accelerated economic development. Edris Kisambira provides some details:
According to documents filed at UIA, the park will provide a modern environment for the economic rejuvenation of Jinja town, where the park will be situated. The facilities will include a hardware and software innovation center, a biotechnology innovation center and what has been called a multinational engineering design center. The park will be given a special economic zone status and...will enjoy the benefits of being one of the first projects of its kind in East and Central Africa.
Studies of technology parks like that envisaged by the LAVIT partners can help nations meet their immediate goals of increased foreign direct investment, "technology transfer, increased exports, technology diffusion, increased employment, and human resource development." But LAVIT is more than that: it is also a powerful message from the people of Uganda to the Indians who were expelled from the 'Pearl of Africa" under Idi's sadly misguided "Reign of Error" -- welcome back home!