Parish Development Model: Lessons from China’s Poverty Alleviation initiatives

By Alan Collins Mpewo


Poverty is a concept not alien to any human that has graced the communities that have since covered the globe. From many corners of earth, in the days of the past, and some (corners of earth) presently, resources were owned and controlled communally. This gave off the position that everyone that stood as a beneficiary for any of the subject resource(s) would stand at an equal footing in the sense of ownership and control, without anyone exceeding the set confines. Transition saw the birth of barter trade, as a mode of exchange, dispose of, and acquisition. Better means (as some will argue) later got introduced. Cowrie shells, beads, iron pellets, carefully cut fabric, and more, as the medium of trade. Finally, the currency as we know it came about – paper money. It has been projected to be the longest standing medium of exchange and trade that may have to be used for a few generations ahead, compared to those it replaced. In the same context, organization systems (notwithstanding their pros and cons) have been picked out for each separate societies, with capitalism being the most widespread. Incidentally, the control of equity and wealth are in a circle of a few individuals, and majority taste the bite of poverty at different levels.

Consequently, the various governments globally always come up with initiatives to reduce the poverty levels whose understanding has been tied around a metric system that determines the poverty line, depending on the changes of economies. Uganda has (and had) various programs established for that cause. Some notable ones have been the “Bona bagagawale, Entandikwa, NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation, Emyooga” and now “Parish Development Model.” However, the challenges and consequential failures for all the programs have similar traits. But are lessons ever picked? Dangers of face-lifting a project on the cosmetic outlook can only do so much in a short time. Underlying factors therefore don’t merely come as of lack of the will for a general change in mechanisms, but remains a mystery for political capital only aimed at a specific point of time. The parish development model for example was unveiled with a fairly switched modus operandi, but the results don’t lie. As time has sailed away, the problems that in many ways led to the demise of its predecessors, may if not remedied, write a similar story for it in time not so far away.

Countries globally have had similar initiatives to lower poverty levels, although sometimes it’s merely a showcase for political capital. The major focus of this opinion is focused on similar policies by China. It’s only fair to determine how China’s initiatives have scored, and being categorized as one of the fastest growing economies of this century, vis-à-vis Uganda’s. About 40 years ago, China had one of the highest poverty levels per aggregate population having millions of its citizens surviving on as low as $1.9 per day. How the script got a parallel chapter spares many lessons for willing countries to choose. The opening of extensive economic transformation and targeted support were the two game changers. For obvious reasons, the will against the fight against corruption and the sociopolitical system also played great roles. It realized the urgency of minimizing economic gaps between various regions in order to have a supportive economic balance before embarking on radical changes. Average economies saw their uplift through systemic tracking of development and accountability. Sustainability was foundational. Building infrastructure on all levels of community organization to withstand changes in the economy and political environment.

Uganda just like many other African countries have mastered the art of short time achievements. Empowerment isn’t considered as the political ideologies are mainly built around dependency on those in higher positions of society, than empowerment. China understood that concept and the results speak for themselves. There are uncountable local entrepreneurs that not only have dealings within China, but also across the globe. For a country with the world’s greatest population, pulling off such an achievement isn’t a small feat. Uganda needs to first set its governance priorities straight on all levels of administration. Key indicators have it that even the distributed finances for the various projects barely meet their target recipients. Such administration gaps are one of the greatest setbacks. Just like China, poverty alleviation should be on an equal from of all sectors, because the intersection among them is interdependence. Without proper infrastructure, trade is slower. Without proper governance, economic transformation is a myth. Without proper healthcare, labor productivity is lowest. Without improved ICT, industrialization is minimal. Without government support of local entrepreneurship, traditional commercialization becomes riskier to invest in. A broken education system will have society at great loses in all sectors.

The bare minimum should then be in strategizing as China and other fast-growing economies did, and establishing new and focused priorities of transformation. Otherwise, the statistics on poverty levels in Uganda haven’t been shining any bright light in the past two decades, to date.

Alan Collins Mpewo is a Senior Research Fellow, Development Watch Centre.

From Mityana to Guangzhou; The incredible story of Mr. Mugerwa

By Shemei Ndawula

Mugerwa Joseph is a natural born story teller, perched on his wooden stool, his hand nestled absentmindedly in his prickly black beard stubble, one would be forgiven if they wouldn’t believe he’s one of the most influential personalities in Uganda’s flower industry, running two successful flower shops and wholesale flower depots as well as an accomplished events planner.

But once you hear him speak, you catch a glimpse of a savvy business man whose vision and ambition led him, with little formal education and financial grounding from the dusty backroads in rural Mityana, Uganda to what he describes as “the world’s largest floristry market” in Guangzhou, China.

His colleagues jokingly refer to him as a Ugandan-Chinese because his TV set in the florist is always tuned into Chinese news station CGTN and he’s always quick to offer insight on the news stories relying heavily on his experiences in China, he often has a rapt audience listening to his stories as he extrapolates, in a deep sagely voice, his Chinese experience.

When I first met him, he was emphatically detailing the meals he used to have while on the Asian continent, he was saying (the following words are translated and paraphrased from Luganda which is his main language of communication) “as a Ugandan in China, the easiest meal to get is chicken, we ate so much chicken we almost got tired of it, I see you people excited by these restaurants like KFC but in China, these are very normal things, in fact, we would have to take a train from our area in Guangzhou to go have Ugandan food like Matooke” he exclaimed to  his enrapt audience.

Mr Mugerwa’s first trip to China was a decade ago. This was after close to eight years working as an apprentice florist in Kampala for one of the earliest commercial flower companies in the country and deciding he wanted more.

During his early days in Guangzhou, Mr Mugerwa was fascinated by the technological and artistic innovations he came across. He marveled at the efficient and fast transportation systems, the modern buildings, and the use of digital technology in almost everything and most importantly the advanced manufacturing capabilities of the Chinese synthetic flower industries which could make high quality artificial flowers with the appearance and texture of natural flowers.

Inspired by this, he would take long walks around Guangzou flower market in the evenings trying to learn and soak in everything he could about the industry, which would later prove to be a game-changer for his florist business in Kampala.

He was mind blown by the abundance of affordable high-quality flower accessories that he’d possibly never have imagined while in Uganda. This sparked a new idea in him. He was quick to establish contacts in Guangzou despite the language barrier (he is still predominantly a Luganda speaker) and because of the amazing business acumen that has come to define the Chinese bilateral trade, he had access to many high-quality goods at heavily discounted prices many of the sellers even offering the enthusiastic fast talking Ugandan businessman credit facilities.

Using his contacts in Guangzhou, he imported his first shipment; a great haul with floral wrappers, ornamental vases, decorative linens and realistic artificial flowers many of which were novel to the country which sparked a revolutionary ripple in the local Ugandan floristry industry.

With his new-found business knowledge and a steady supply of affordable high-quality flower accessories, Mr Mugerwa’s florist business in Kampala has been on the up and up since his first trip to China. Because of the great bilateral friendship between Uganda and China, Mr Mugerwa is able to import high quality goods from factories in China at low costs and resale them at affordable prices in Kampala, a win-win partnership with his Chinese suppliers which has turned the ambitious Mityana youth into an astute businessman expanding his first florist with a second flower shop which deals exclusively in events management and decoration as well as a second wholesale flower depot. Additionally, the floristry ideas and techniques he picked up from China have also made him one of the best creative florists in Kampala and doubtless an unassailable force in the industry.

The story of Mr Mugerwa is no strange outlier. Countless Ugandan lives have been positively impacted by the great Sino-Ugandan partnership over the last six decades. From business men like Mr Ntumwa Birimumaso of Ubuntu Cafe, to scientists like Engineer Rita Nasaazi a petroleum expert, and agricultural and bamboo enthusiast Mr Andrew Ndawula Kalema of Talent orchards.

Often when we discuss diplomacy, bilateral trade and foreign policy, it is easy to get lost in the statistics and figures as well as heavy sounding diplomatic diction that we may at times forget the faces behind the statistics and the voices behind the economic trends. Every unique story like Mr Mugerwa’s is a vote of confidence in the special bilateral friendship that Uganda and China share and a promise of what we can achieve by working together, the promise of the CCP leadership in China and the people of Uganda, a friendship of mutual benefit, cooperation and development that’s echoed in the China’s infrastructure support in Africa especially under the Belt and Road Initiative  and the established preferential trade agreement between China and African countries.

It is said that one of the greatest achievements of the ancient Chinese was to build The Great Wall of China; I believe, in retrospect, the future may perceive the greatest achievement of modern-day China as The Great Bridge of China; the great bilateral friendship that connects so many countries to the People’s Republic of China bridging the gap between dreamers and opportunity, a win-win partnership.

Shemei Ndawula is a senior Research Fellow, Sino-Uganda Research Centre

G7 Leaders’ Rhetorics a Threat to Pacifism and Global Peace

By Allawi Ssemanda

Over the weekend, we listened to leaders of Group of Seven (G7) countries who gathered in Hiroshima, Japan for this year’s G7 summit which started with promise of trying to address world’s challenges.

If we take a clear analysis of speeches of the leaders; from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan—plus the European Union, one can conclude that the summit veered off the original course – addressing global challenges and metamorphosized into a sort of anti-China grouping.

From press conferences to official communiqué, as the Atlantic Council analysis concluded; “make no mistake, it is all about China,” the U.S and “Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the issue of combating China’s economic coercion a priority for Japan’s G7.”

While President Joe Biden told press that he supports the idea of having an “open hotline” with China, his rhetoric points at a president interested in maligning China with accusations of “China’s continued military expansion” and the so-called Beijing’s “economic coercion.” However, simple facts check points at the U.S being the leader when it comes to economic coercion especially influencing allies to follow Washington’s unilateral decisions.

While Biden claimed that Washington will not “decouple from China,” he told the same press that “with all the talk about China’s building its military, I’ve made it clear …I’m not prepared to trade certain items with China,” claiming that trading freely with China means China “using them to build nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and I’m not going to do it.” Biden further boasted that allies have all agreed to restrict selling of certain items to Chinese firms stressing that “we’ve now got commitment from all of our allies they’re not going to either provide that kind of material that allows them to do that.”

While Biden claimed that the U.S is not seeking to “decouple from China,” if critically analysed, his comments reflect China’s accusation that Washington has been encouraging allies and companies to decouple from Chinese chain supply. Indeed, on 7th October 2022, the U.S took unprecedented steps announcing export bans to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips and chip-making equipment. Hence, the claim that the U.S does not seek to “decouple from China” is double standard considering that the U.S has been encouraging her companies to do exactly this. However, the U.S must accept fair competition and come to reality that attempts to isolate China will not help Washington and threaten global economy. As Elon Musk argued, it is not realistic to completely decouple from China and such efforts will definitely boomerang. For example, since 2013, China has been the engine of global economy with more than 38% compared to all G7 countries contribution of just 25.7%!

On G7 accusing China of increasingly “building its military” capacity, one can argue that compared to the U.S 2022/2023 defence budget of about $761 billion which is almost times four of China’s ($230 billion), this claim is baseless and misleading. It is also important to observe that all the G7 countries’ defence budgets have been steadily increasing over the past several years. Therefore, pointing at China as the only country whose military budget continue to rise is a keen to misinformation.

Telling journalists that “now, we’re also united in our approach to the People’s Republic of China, and the joint statement released yesterday outlines the shared principles we’ve all agreed at the G7 and beyond in dealing with China,” Biden argued that as a result of alleged China’s continued military building, “we’ve ended up where you have Japan stepping up in a way that’s of real consequence, in terms of your defense budget, number one, and a beginning of a rapprochement with South Korea.” If analysed, Japan’s decision to abandon pacifism which Tokyo has maintained for decades as per its post-war constitution – adopted in 1947 with a clause commonly referred to as Article 9 in which first paragraph renounces war, and the second paragraph promises to never maintain military forces, today, Japan’s decision to consider own military as well as growing its defence budget can be traced from US’ influence and courting Tokyo to join Washington’s anti-Beijing club with their so-called countering China agenda which is informed by America’s libido dominandi, a Latin phrase for lust to dominate others.  We can argue that using China card, the U.S has created China scare and forced countries including Japan into group formation with the latest being the so-called QUAD which analysts argue is meant to counter what US calls China’s influence in Indo-Pacific.

Indeed, addressing press alongside G7 summit in Hiroshima, president Biden was categorical explaining that he convinced India, Australia and Japan to join the U.S and form Quad. “I bet you — I would — maybe some of you thought it, but I doubt many people in this audience or any other audience would have said that two years after being elected, I’d be able to convince India, Australia, Japan, and the United States to form an organization called the Quad to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea,” boasted president Biden.

The formation of Quad left a number of countries in the region entering defence competition with Japan abandoning its pacifism policy, South Korea announcing increased military spending and the U.S promising nuclear submarines to Australia on the other hand claiming Washington is committed to ensuring nuclear proliferation in the region.

Also, the G7 summit addressed their so-called “shared commitment to the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)” and promised $600 billion to among others support infrastructure development in both South and Global north.  Analysts argue PGII is meant to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has so far been embraced by over 151 countries and at least 32 international organizations creating tens of thousands of employment opportunities and growing a number of countries GDP projections, G7’s PGII largely remains on paper. Despite G7 promises of speeding up their push for new supply chains ostensibly to leverage the PGII as an alternative to BRI, it is very unlikely this will be realised. Indeed, since its announcement two years ago, in Africa, it is very difficult to trace how many countries have benefited from it. The U.S which is arguably a de facto leader of G7 and pushing PGII itself has serious infrastructure deficits and the Biden administration has more than twice failed to convince congress to fund it. It therefore remains strange to imagine congress will approve money to address infrastructure deficits abroad yet it failed to approval similar spending at home.

In conclusion, the G7 summit which started with promise of trying to address global challenges ended up as a small group of rich countries discussing how to counter China and ignored real issues affecting the world especially developing countries. On global peace, in efforts to their so-called countering China, the group instigated Japan to abandon its pacifism policy as Tokyo embarks on building and growing its military. Also, the choice of Hiroshima which suffered the first nuclear attacks at a time when Russia-Ukraine crisis is raging makes one wonder what message G7 leaders were sending. It is not a surprise there was no talk of diplomacy as a possible way of addressing the crisis but many choose to announce military support to Kiev.

Dr. Allawi Ssemanda is a Senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre.

The G-7 Summit was yet another “US against Them” Political Rally

By Moshi Israel

The 2023 G7 summit, in Hiroshima, Japan started on 19th May and concluded on 21st May. The participating G7 countries include; the United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, and France. The European Union also participates in all discussions as a guest represented jointly by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. An invitation was also extended to BRICS members and emerging economic powerhouses, India and Brazil. The president of war-torn Ukraine also participated in the summit. Additional countries were invited to fill up the sixteen sits available at the summit including Comoros and the Cook Islands representing the African Union and Pacific Islands Forum, respectively, as their current chairs.

The summit concerned itself with two major perspectives; Upholding the so-called international order based on the rule of law and outreach to the Global South.

The choice to focus on these two perspectives provides an insight into the major itch on the back of G7 countries. First of all, it signals that the G7 is of the view that their international rules-based order is under threat and secondly, they acknowledge the fact that they are losing influence in the Global South. Naturally, the blame is always placed on some external enemy and little focus is put on self-reflection.

Furthermore, the summit discussed a couple of issues. On top of the list was the issue of Regional Affairs with Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific being of major concern. Other important issues included; Nuclear disarmament and Non-proliferation, Economic Resilience and Economic Security, Climate and Energy, Food, Health, and Development. Concerns on Gender, Human Rights, Digitalization, and Science and Technology were highlighted.

However, most of these important topics were not the highlight of the summit. Instead, the 2023 G7 Summit is now infamous for its anti-China rhetoric and has come off as yet another “Us Vs Them” political rally. This is a dangerous reinventing of the cold-war mentality that was detrimental to Global peace. The British Prime Minister cited China as representing “the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity.” Although many are left wondering whose ‘security’ and whose ‘prosperity’ Mr. Rishi Sunak is referring to.  Furthermore, the G7 leaders agreed to establish an initiative to counter economic ‘coercion.’ Jumping on the anti-china chorus, the leaders of the QUAD group- India, Australia, Japan, and the US called for ‘peace and stability in the Indo-pacific maritime domain’ in an attempt to jibe at China. Overall, the G7 countries released a communique that ‘warned’ China over its ‘militarisation activities’ in the Asia-pacific region.

On the other hand, Beijing hit back at the G7 by calling the summit a collective effort to ‘smear and attack China.’ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China also pointed out that the G7 was ‘hindering international peace, undermining regional stability and curbing other countries’ development.’ This statement will most likely resonate with many countries in the Global South. Also, on the summit’s final day, Chinese regulators barred Chinese infrastructure from using US chip maker, Micron Technology after the latter failed a two-month security review.

All this highlights the increasing gap in cooperation between Beijing and the West. Although President Biden expressed hope for the rejuvenation of China-US relations, it now sounds like empty rhetoric. The G7 countries tried to input a ‘positive note’ on the summit by claiming that they wanted ‘constructive and stable relations’ with Beijing and aimed to ‘de-risk’ rather than ‘de-couple’ from their relations with China. Unsurprisingly too, there was no active support for an end to hostilities in Ukraine but rather an escalation of the conflict through further military aid. The only viable solution to the situation in Ukraine according to the West is the complete defeat or withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine. Only time can be the judge of such a position.

It is safe to conclude that the G7 summit did not bring forward any new ideas or innovative ways to handle Global turmoil but instead resorted to tired and tried tactics that help no one by increasing tensions. The pattern is clear and spells tribal warfare where everyone joins a camp and fights to crush a perceived enemy.  It is a kind of politics where national interest takes precedence over any progressive notion of healthy competition and cooperation. It is perhaps, high time the words of seasoned diplomat Henry Kissinger are taken seriously. In an interview with the British Historian Niall Ferguson, published by the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo,” Kissinger noted that a ‘second cold war fought between the United States and China could be more dangerous than the first one.’ He further noted that such a war could ‘overthrow civilization, if not destroy it altogether.’  He also observed that waiting for China to ‘Westernise’ was not a plausible strategy and did not think ‘World domination is a Chinese concept.’

The global south eventually emerges as the loser from the summit because once again the West only reaches out not to reinvent relations based on equal opportunities and mutual respect but as a strategy to curb China’s influence and to rally support against Russia.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with DWC





Strategic Government Planning is at the Root of China’s Modernisation

By Moshi Israel

The path of China to modernisation is a tale of perseverance, strategic planning, reform and whole process democracy. It is a path trodden by all the people of china with the Communist Party of China (CPC) leading the way. China’s path to modernisation should be a revered blueprint for other developing countries. It is testament to the fact that with a determined population and an organized government that appreciates its own contemporary and historical context, development can be achieved at the highest level.

Before the communist revolution in 1949, China like other impoverished countries struggled to find its identity. The country was stuck in the murky waters of constant civil wars, the opium wars, colonialism and years of humiliation. The advent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under Chairman Mao ushered in a new era of strategic ambition for the Chinese. Since then, the CPC has been at the forefront of efforts to turn china into a modern, developed and advanced socialist country with Chinese characteristics.

During this year’s April 21st Opening Ceremony of the Lanting Forum on Chinese Modernisation and the World in Shanghai, H.E State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang gave a keynote speech in which he uttered these immortal words that capture the spirit of China’s Modernisation path;

A towering tree grows from its roots, and a long river flows from its source. Likewise, our success in Chinese modernization was not handed down from the heaven or just emerged by itself. It has been attained step by step through determined, painstaking efforts of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC always staying true to its founding mission. Chinese modernization is deeply rooted in Chinese history, practices and philosophies.”

The above quote should be framed and hanged on the walls of all policy makers in all developing countries. Words are the building blocks for action. A careful study especially here in Uganda of China’s path to modernisation can yield inspiration in various forms and put the country on a similar path. This path should involve all Ugandans and should be led by a government invested in long-term strategic planning.  One avenue to study are the characteristics of China’s path to Modernisation.

The first characteristic involves the fact that china’s modernisation covers a huge population of well over a billion people (1.4b). The lifting of millions of people out of absolute poverty is not only an advantage for China but also helps the world at large. The more people out of poverty, the more the world realizes its sustainable development goals expressed through the United Nations. Also, China has over 50 nationalities and a vast territory which in most cases is a recipe for disaster. However, all these diverse peoples have been well integrated into a development program that leaves no one behind. This is not easy to achieve but should serve as an example to a country like Uganda which also boasts numerous ethnicities and tribes. Cultural diversity is a strength and not a weakness.

Secondly, China’s modernisation involves common prosperity for all. This involves the reduction and elimination of the gap between the rich and poor. China’s President Xi Jinping commonly says “The Country is the people, and the people is the country.”  No country can achieve development without involving its people. For instance, China has established the world’s largest compulsory education system, social security system and health system. This prosperity is not relegated to the Chinese people but also extended globally to include Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. Initiatives such as the Belt and Road (BRI), FOCAC and GDI are China’s embrace of prosperity with the rest of the world.

Also, another characteristic of China’s modernisation path is the modernisation of Material and Cultural-Ethical advancement. It is rooted in Karl Marx’s philosophy of all-round development of the human being. China recognises the importance of material abundance in building a modern socialist country. However, to avoid the social breakdown in some other developed countries, the Chinese also value and implement Cultural-ethical advancement that focuses on upholding morality and social values to build a well-balanced material and Spiritual state.

The fourth characteristic of china’s modernisation honours the link between humanity and nature. The world today is seemingly united in the fight against the existential crisis of climate change. China has been taking major steps in curbing its carbon emissions. It has also pushed for sustainable development and promised to achieve carbon dioxide peaking and neutrality. This is an area in which, many developing countries are facing challenges and require extensive research and investment. Fortunately, China is also looking to address this global challenge through the ‘Belt and Road Green Development International Alliance.’

Last but not least, the Chinese path to modernisation is a path of peaceful development. A world without conflicts is an ideal world for all involved. It is a safe world for development and it is especially important for developing nations. China rejects the old notions of development through war, plunder and destruction of others. Vital to Chinese interests is a peaceful world in which to conduct relations. Therefore, china advocates for mutual respect and win-win partnerships. China’s credentials as a peace advocate have been enormously boosted by the recent brokering of the Saudi-Iran peace deal that had a positive effect on conflicts in the Middle East.

It is therefore, vital for developing nations to study China’s modernisation path that elevated it from a century of humiliation to a modern economic and political power house slated to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world.  It is important to note that when the cold war ended in 1991, western countries were jubilant and celebrated the victory of capitalism. Several scholars labelled it the ‘end of history,’ because capitalism was the sole system driving human civilization. However, China through the strategic planning of the CPC and Chinese people produced a miracle, it achieved in a few decades, a kind of development that took western countries thousands of years. China’s modernisation is proof that there is more than one way to achieve development.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with the Development Watch Centre




Fighting Extreme Poverty: Lessons from China’s Poverty Eradication Initiative

By Balongoofu Daniel

The world bank under the poverty and inequality Platform (PIP) as of march 2023 assessed global poverty from a period of 2020 with special focus on the global south that to a larger extent is victimized by this catastrophe. The prevailing data collected from nations with functional grid systems that track levels of poverty indicate that the global head count ratio increased by 0.1 percent to 8.5 percent resulting into a revision in the number of people living in extreme poverty from 648 million to 659 million additionally from south Asia with about 5 million people, The middle east and North Africa contributing 4 million people resulting into an increase of about 11 million people living in extreme poverty hence forth.

Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the provisional data indicates that the global head count ratio as of march 2023 stands at about 86.4 percent and the number of poor people estimated to be about 969 million. This speaks volumes of what needs to be done to check these sharp rising poverty trends especially in this part of the world.

This to occur, countries in Global South may have to learn from other countries where the war against poverty has been successful. For example, picking from China, a self-established model in poverty eradication, African countries can learn more on how to successfully contain poverty. Arguably, China is of a great lesson to the global south and Sub-Saharan Africa in this fight that the nation evolved from a history not alien to the prevailing social-political and economic structure of the sub-Saharan region. Right from atrocities being war torn by both civil wars, the fight against colonialism, food insecurity and a big growing population with limited resources at the time. The nation embarked on a long journey of strategic self-transformation and creating of opportunities that have made it the worlds production hub and the second largest economy.

In February of 2021, president Xi announced that extreme poverty had been eradicated in the nation in what he termed as a miracle. He announced that; “Through combined efforts of the whole party and the entire nation, China has secured a complete victory in its fight against poverty in this important year”.

The unification of China by the CPC in 1949 followed major land reforms that the government under took as the first measure. It should be noted that the period during the 30-year long wars characterized with both civil and fights against the Japanese colonialists at the time which followed a complete institutional and national break down by fighting war lords who divided the nation into territories and taxed the people to fund their wars hence contributing to the acute levels of poverty. The land reforms saw the elimination of the first major institutional obstacle since the state retained exclusive rights to the land that later saw investment in improved farmlands irrigation which gave the peasants modern farming trainings and employment. The land reform also saw a redistribution of land to peasants and tenants who then acquired land which encouraged wide scale agricultural production through cooperatives later in 1953.  The government as well heavily invested in rural education, medical services as major roots and basis that the current 27 trillion dollars economy inherits.

Later during 1978, China registered great success over the poverty elimination fight under the central collective leadership of president Deng Xiaoping that declared poverty as not being socialism therefore the party undertook efforts here to liberalize the Chinese market through opening it up for foreign direct investments and commercial production. This attracted investors with huge capitals that drastically promoted value addition on the locally produced agricultural produce of which the huge population provided a ready market necessary for-profit maximization.

It should be noted that the government as well took strategic reforms to accord the high-tech state-owned enterprises that drove the of value addition initially a level of autonomy that they were to compete with other private enterprises, determine production and supply and drive reinvestment of the profits accumulated. This strategically introduced the capitalistic traits of profit maximization hence gradually abandoning the socialistic home-based production. This resulted into a massive average GDP growth of about 8.2 percent per year on average between 1978 and 2020.therefore as a result, on average there were 18.7 fewer poor people in China since 1978 hence the miracle that president Xi highlighted in his victory speech.

China’s fight against corruption is commendable and cannot be ignored while addressing the fight against poverty. It should be noted that this cancer has greatly undermined the gains of economic development especially in sub–Saharan Africa therefore the global south aught to borrow a leaf from China’s defeat of this vice. From the 1970s when China begun to carry out the policy reforms and opening up, The CPC government at the time took very stringent measures against economic crimes such as smuggling, embezzlement and taking bribes. The road to combating this cancer featured addressing of both the symptoms and the root causes of corruption. Comprehensive treatment and gradual intensification of efforts to eliminate the root causes of economic crimes were deployed and till the 21st century, China has constantly expanded the corruption prevention frame work from special prevention of individual corruption to preventive work and administrative examination with approval, financial management and cadre personal system reforms under the national bureau of corruption prevention to co ordinate the work of combating this vice and holding victims accountable by both the law and national publicity. It should be noted that China has been effective in fighting this vice which has made it swift for the implementation of these poverty eradication programs.

Conclusively, the new battle against poverty is now carried on by president Xi’s tenure. After the tremendous successes in fighting poverty which in saw Beijing announcing it had realized its first centenary goal – building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and president Xi declaring that the country was embarking on what he described as “marching in confident strides toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects,” he called for implementation of newer strategies to lift the remaining poor to prosperity. The new strategies call for identifying the most vulnerable, then analysis is done on the root causes of poverty. These programs have been decentralized to the lowest political composition of society that help in implementation and accountability to the central government and it should be however noted that the present-day mechanisms involve elements of poverty relief dispatched by the government directly to the affected people among special transformational programs such as electrification and connectivity through roads to encourage economic transformation and productivity. As other countries in the global south such as Uganda come up with programs meant to fight poverty such as Parish Development Model, China offers a rich pool of expertise where we can draw lessons on how to successfully end extreme poverty.

Balongoofu Daniel is a Junior Research Fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre



China’s Development Model: What Lessons Can African Countries Take

By Alan Collins Mpewo

For all paths of life that grace the present generation, is a story of the past inhabitants who made unsettling decisions to shape society as is. Sometimes such decisions have come off as mistakes because of the troubling situation they’ve caused, while still, sometimes such decisions have shaped the societies for the better. China in the same pursuit is part of that story. From a viewpoint of past and not long-gone events, China isn’t unique in the challenges it had to face from many other scattered countries around the globe. Imperialism leads the long line of the troubles it met along the way. With a look at China today, all seems well on the outset, giving an impression to an unsuspecting mind that everything prior has been merry. It’s a long road to walk down the memory lane, of the many failures China has encountered to inform its current status that some nations tend to emulate. But to get there, it was required of a system propagated to lead to desired results at the end of each project. That notwithstanding, the same system was required to maintain and occasionally improve the registered results.

The China Development Model is the system of focus in this article, what it entails, and what the global south may look out for. It goes without saying, that indeed there are numerous differences in the societies in the global south as compared to China. These range from cultures and traditions, political establishments, social setups, religious leanings, to mention but a least. The China Development Model is a unique parallel to the long existent Western free market-based system. A study of the two systems would boldly iron out the obvious differences and China has for over three decades established an alternative system with its development model. The economic pace in China is a point of academic regard due to the massive economic reforms it has implemented in over 30 years. The unexpected shift has led various of its societies to shift from the traditional agriculture to industrialization. The metrics of demand and supply have no half-truths especially when it’s factual that for majority global players, have almost each household at least owning a commodity manufactured from China.

That’s the power and command the industrialization in China has as impact on the global supply trends. The sharp studies by China in the growing trends and shifts in the global economy have kept shaping its focus on creation and innovation. Another main factor has been the need to provide for its population, the largest in the world, to be catered for while keeping it together. A cultural focus of its communism has been important in minimalism of Western infiltration. It thus stages the battle of capitalism versus communism. By 1970, China was isolated by the two powerhouses then, the Soviet Union and USA. How it turned the narrative around to being considered today’s leading global economy is still a marvel. China has overtime intertwined its political ideology and economic needs together, and that way, it has kept uniform in transactions on every possible socioeconomic for a. For a long run of decades, the USA has had a grip of the IMF and World Bank, sinking many global south countries into capitalism. The unsettling reality now lies in the alternative China has created.

The China Development Model has a major point of concern on continuous reduction of poverty levels, and that it has kept achieving. 100 years ago, it would have seemed to have China as one of the countries with the least corruption rates. The outlook is overly distinct. For the Global South, corruption is the largest contributor of the wallowing people that’s been biting many of its inhabitants. It takes an unshakable will and devotion to strike down corruption levels. Just like China has continuously done, the Global South is challenged to develop a nervous system to cut the corruption levels. Otherwise without such understanding, no matter how innovative the global south gets, the efforts will always be of no much great aspiration. Central planning and service delivery is greatly dependent on revenue. The routes revenue allocation takes and where they end up are a reflection of the various societies. There’s compounded poverty albeit the endless efforts by external players to issue a helping hand.

Another main aspect of the China Development Model is its decentralization and foreign investment policies. These have a major focus on advancing local entrepreneurship and robust technology growth. The tech industry that runs on the model technology is the future is constantly renewed. To grow is to know that time is at the center stage, and that informs the need to simplify human activity. There’s no doubt as to why the tech in China has greatly advanced while incorporating its cultures and traditions. The global south has made many errors. One of those is the identity crisis. There has been much of unselective assimilation into systems and cultures at the expense of their own long-standing cultural systems. China isn’t among. The global south should seek to reshape its development order on a traditional front. There’s need to regain its unique identities. Realigning the fiscal needs in the global south as is with the China Development Model will save the global south from constant embarrassment it has suffered for decades. There’s need to write a unique development script going forward.

The writer is a Senior Research Fellow, Development Watch Centre.

A Multi-Polar World would be a Catalyst for Africa’s Development Ambitions

By Moshi Israel

The distribution of global economic and political power among more than two States is vital to Africa’s development ambitions. The balance of power among several centers of power would curtail the destructive tendencies of hegemonism, unilateralism and great power conflicts. Going back to the cold war era between the USSR and the US, the African continent was a victim of great power politics. This manifested itself through proxy wars, coups and assassinations orchestrated by the two competing blocs of USSR and the United States.

For many years, Africa was only ‘independent’ in theory but practically a brand-new form of colonialism had taken shape. Different African countries were run by governments that shaped their policies in line with the two competing hegemonies of the time. Sanctions, regime change, and war plagued the continent, and it all served the interests of foreign powers with the approval of hand-picked corrupt African leaders.

The bipolar world, dominated by the Soviet Union and the United States and its associated political games left the continent in shambles. First, it was colonialism that exploited the continent and then the cold war came in to finish off an already weak continent. It is important to note that the Soviet Union largely supported Pan-African movements and personalities such as Anti-apartheid movements and Nelson Mandela.

With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a new era was ushered into the world. African countries had a new challenge on their hands. The events of 1991, ushered in a new Unipolar world, where the United States remained the sole Hegemon on the global stage. As the world sighed in relief at the end of the cold war and potential nuclear annihilation, the dangers of having an unchecked global power grew exponentially. The United States and allies got entangled in interventionist wars in former Yugoslavia (1995-96), Afghanistan (2001-2021), Iraq (2003-2011), Somalia (2007-present), Libya (2011) and Syria (2014).

The African continent has since kowtowed to the dictates of a rules-based order established by a power that has no competitor. Currently there are nine African countries under US sanctions, which means 1 in 5 African countries. this is in addition to dealing with a system that imposes unfair trade rules on the continent, loans from the World Bank and IMF with unfair structural adjustment requirements. The United Nations on the other hand has also suffered from the dictates of its biggest funder (USA) and cannot curtail the unilateral tendencies of the US and other powers. The UN is supposed to be an organization where African countries should have equal power to other sovereign states.

It would be unfair to claim that the Unipolar reign of the USA has been all bad for Africa. There are instances of good partnership through foreign Aid, and collaboration in the fight against terrorism. Additionally, the United States has also been a great partner when it comes to public health and the fight against deadly pandemics and disease outbreaks such as Ebola, Malaria and HIV/AIDS. However, this relationship has been largely lopsided in the favor of the USA and is also largely overpowered by regime change politics, unfair trade policies and the Master-Servant political engagement from American politicians.

However, the rise of China, itself a country that has suffered similar experiences like the African countries, shines a new light on the horizon. Currently, many countries such as Brazil, India, Japan, Indonesia, China, Russia, and the EU are global economic powers. China and other BRICS member states are pushing for multi-polar world based on Mutual respect and win-win partnerships.

A multi-polar world means the end of Hegemonism, great power conflicts and Unilateralism. African countries should meet this opportunity by taking action to get rid of rampant corruption, ethnicism, illiteracy, civil war through power struggles and religious fanaticism. This can be achieved through building powerful and resilient institutions, good governance, technological innovation, sustainable development, increasing intra-African trade, industrialization, increasing the manufacturing base, investing in smart education systems, and modernizing infrastructure, among others.

A multi-polar world provides room for uninterrupted development, free from unilateral interventions from a powerful nation and free from the insecurity caused by great power competition. As a victim of both these systems, Africa has the right to welcome a multi-polar world based on real equality. The hope for such a world from the entire global south is not merely a naïve outlook or skewed understanding of global politics but a desperate and hopeful longing for a fair, just, and secure global system.

Moshi Israel is a senior Research Fellow with Sino-Uganda Research Centre.




The World Bank’s Scare Amid VP Kamala Harris’s Visit to Africa: BRICS Bank offers Hope to Global South

By Alan Collins Mpewo

There was a time when the World Bank and its ilk ruled the world economy fluidity without much or any rivalry. In fact, this prompted them to dictate the loan terms and conditions (regardless of how steep) and the loan receivers only stood on the far side without any pleas being given much audience. The tides have significantly changed in the recent times with the rise of the Eastern economies. As the largest contributor and member of the BRICS (Brazil, China, India and South Africa) Bank or the New Development Bank, China has significantly led the league of dominant economies and as rightly foreseen by some analysts such as O’Neill, J. in his 2001 Economic Paper entitled; Building Better Global Economic BRICs. Goldman Sachs Global Economic, China has consequently become a scare to the world bank. It happens more often, as a rule on basic dominance that a stronghold for decades can run at unease with any challenge to their foundational dominance. It’s a proper adoption of the rules of the jungle. Survival for the fittest has greatly been undertaken by the West, while Beijing has constantly harnessed the “round circle” doctrine. This is to the effect that there shouldn’t be any dominance by whoever they seek to partner with, but rather a round table formation of diplomacy which enables having an all-round talk while setting fair attention to all pleas.

The President of the World Bank, David Malpass, has recently been skeptic on the loans issued by China to Africa. BBC was the medium of his scares, and he had a lot to state as regards to his worries for the growing economies in the Global South. His address was hinged on what he described as nontransparent terms and conditions. He added a call for such terms and conditions to be increased in transparency. However, if we critically analyse this, Malpass cherrypicked facts. For example, he ignored other facts such as that in most cases when countries are borrowing, they request to include privacy terms which cannot be unilaterally ignored by China because Malpass so suggested. Actually, such terms are common terms used by other lenders including  some members of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). A March 2021 joint report by AidData, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Georgetown Law, Kiel Institute for the World Economy of Germany, and Center for Global Development concluded that seven percent of OECD official creditors sampled have some sort of privacy terms and use contract tools and repayment security devices to ensure loan repayments.

Of course, some onlookers will agree that Malpass’ statements have some validity, but without context, it all comes as distress signaling in as regards the World Bank’s long-standing economic dominance. So, for purposes of proper analysis, I’ve elected to dress my opinion with a juxtaposition in regards to ‘what was’, and ‘what is’, to better understand the outcry.

In what many would agree to, China has provided an alternative. Previously, there was basically one direction to look at for economic support, when domestic and regional interventions failed. The World Bank would then come with a pool of excess funding, but for their conditions. In fact, there isn’t much in most countries that they can show for what the funding then was being put to use for. To be fair, most was spent on lavishing the corrupt whims of those who sit in the highest echelons of the borrowers. Be that as it may, with most loans from Beijing, loan restructuring tries as much to encompass accountability on a ‘target/goal hit’ basis. Sometimes, it goes ahead to additionally offer expatriate support in order to secure the project completions. This modus is greatly parallel from how the World Bank has in recent times operated.

The starting point of the Ills had always been with the propagation of the loan disbursement to be through either the Euro or dollar currencies. In turn, and sadly a reality for most of the world borrowers, loan repayment has often been expensive due to the changes and fluctuations in the contract currencies in light of the economic instabilities globally. While the World Bank cited Zambia and Ghana as examples to support its allegations, it was inconsiderate in noting that Beijing has since recent times lent debt writing off for not only both countries, but also numerous other countries in the global south. In March 2021, researchers at Johns Hopkins University noted that between 2000 and 2019, China wrote off accumulated arrears of 94 interests’ free loans for African countries that totaled over 3.4 billion USD. A move by the same bank would in the past still hinge on some undesirable conditions. It was always a winner and left no much room for the Global South in the bargain. While rules on international lending are a guidance on desirable practices, the same rules have often been penned by the allies and this has been a major point of disagreement for China. Debt management shouldn’t be a tool at a disposal for wanton sinking of other global players, but perhaps with a facelift, should be looked at, and used, as a way of supporting the not so economically sound nations.

While this has been China’s objective, to the West, it has always been met with antagonism. This has been witnessed by the visit of the U.S Vice-president Harris Kamala to over 3 countries in the global south, in a move to pulling those nations and possibly their neighbors through promises of economic support. Promises were among other countries, made to Tanzania and Ghana, and evidently, the tone in U.S’ tone towards Africa is significantly changing from “what the U.S can do for Africa,” to “what Africa and U.S can do together.” With the various turns in international politics, there’s much attention on what this new tone would seek to mean to the Global South. It’s in the alternative evident from the climate change trends and rapid alliances, that there’s a great need for natural resources as a move for mitigation of the effects. Nickel still ranks among the most sought minerals, and without a doubt, Africa is still a virgin ground with isolated deposits. For leading manufacturers of electric cars as alternatives to carbon emitting machinery, the visit to isolated nations has raised eyebrows and rather than agreeing with China’s mutual respect doctrine of diplomacy, a move to merely discredit Beijing through channeled antagonism. Arms crossed for what’s next.

Alan Collins Mpewo, is a lawyer and a Senior Research Fellow, Development Watch Centre.

Kampala Pothole Exhibition points at the need to adopt Chinese development Strategy

By Shemei Ndawula

In case you’ve not been paying attention, last week ushered into the Ugandan civic space a new era of online and remote protests. The satirically dubbed #KampalaPotholeExhibition; a brainchild of Ugandan cartoonist and Academic Dr Spire Ssentongo, had all the pomp and novelty of a cultural revolution with Ugandan social media enthusiasts tweeting, posting and sharing various pictures and posts about Kampala’s “endemic pothole problem”. These posts, bordering on the hilarious, concerning and shocking made the online protest viral with features even in some traditional media outlets and many of our mobile phones and computer screens were the frontlines of the protest awash with images of all natures of potholes.

Unlike the physical protests which have for long characterized the Ugandan civil agitation space with debatable results, this particular protest seems to have achieved early level success with the momentum it garnered culminating into a discussion in parliament and the President ordering the release of funds for the expeditious repair of potholes in the city.

One of the most pertinent things that stood out in the discourse is that very little foreign aid is funneled into the transport infrastructure development in Uganda. For the most part Uganda funds its own expansion, repair and upgrading of roads especially within the Kampala metropolitan area, a heavy yoke on the Ugandan taxpayer which bites even harder if you have to carry it on pothole riddled roads. Additionally, this also stunts the road construction sector because with lack of international sector benchmarks and quality controls, many roads are constructed in inefficient and unsustainable outdated ways by local engineers and the foreign engineering firms who aim to undercut their expenditure and remit higher profit margins.

This is why the Chinese development aid structure stands out as perhaps the only major infrastructure driven foreign assistance policy that focuses on building Uganda’s infrastructure portfolio to spur cross-sector development in the national economy. In the past two decades, Uganda has seen a significant increase in Chinese investment and associated diplomatic policy, with major projects including the construction of the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, the Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station, and the Standard Gauge Railway and many other major infrastructure projects. These projects have been funded by Chinese loans and grants, and some have been actualized through Public-Private partnerships with Chinese companies which share their cutting age technology on the sites and provide the much needed employment for Ugandan workers through the local content parameters. Chinese engineers and other experts work closely with their Ugandan counterparts, sharing knowledge and expertise to help improve the quality of infrastructure projects in the country.


The diplomatic corp of the People’s Republic of China has also played a key role in the development of Uganda’s infrastructure sector with China being a major supporter of Uganda’s development agenda, and working closely with the Ugandan government to identify areas where Chinese aid and expertise can be most effective. This has included the development of a comprehensive infrastructure master plan, which outlines the key areas where investment is needed to support Uganda’s economic growth as well as linking the various economic hubs of the country with road and rail networks to kickstart this development.

An outstanding example of this would be the “Oil roads” in Western Uganda currently being constructed in the Albertine basin to facilitate the oil exploration activities that are already giving districts like Hoima facelifts and encouraging economic and social development within the region. This investment has helped to improve the quality of life for Ugandans, by providing better access to markets, healthcare, education and other multiplier effects.

Looking ahead, Uganda is well positioned to benefit from the Belt and Road project being rolled out across the African continent. This initiative, which aims to promote economic development and connectivity across Asia, Europe, and Africa, has the potential to transform Uganda’s infrastructure sector, by providing new opportunities for investment and collaboration with Chinese companies.

Chinese investment and diplomatic policy have played a critical role in the development of Uganda’s infrastructure sector, particularly in the construction of roads and other transportation infrastructure and if we are to follow its de-congestion strategy particularly by constructing more superhighways like the Entebbe Expressway and investing in alternative means of transport like the Chinese funded East African Standard Gauge Railway, the overall driving experience and road condition within Kampala will be greatly enhanced. While there is still much work to be done to address the challenges highlighted by the so-called #KampalaPotholeExhibition, the progress that has been made to date is a testament to the power of international cooperation and partnership in driving economic development and improving the lives of people around the world.

The Kampala Pothole exhibition has gone a long way to reveal the dire state of the road network within our capital and there’s a collective sigh of relief from the Citizens that expeditious action is being taken to rectify this. It is also a pat on the back for the Sino-Ugandan mutual development strategy that focuses on infrastructure development to spur economic development in the country.


Shemei Ndawula is a senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre.


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