Medical Diplomacy: China is Building a Community of Shared Prosperity for Mankind

By Dr. Ham Wasswa Matovu

Last week, a team of Ugandan medical experts from district hospitals arrived in Beijing China. Funded by the Chinese government, the team will spend three weeks in China at one of the country’s top Universities, Tsinghua University to attend a Seminar on Health Care and Public Health.  This will boost their public health knowledge and health systems management so as to be able to make a tangible contribution when they return home.

Aware that China is one of few developing countries with a robust and well-functioning health system in the world, there is no doubt that the seminar will equip of medical team with the much-needed expertise and experience which will in turn help contribute in strengthening Uganda’s health sector. Through on his X account (formerly twitter,) Chinese Ambassador to Uganda His Excellency Zhang Lizhong explained that Uganda’s team in Beijing for the seminar under the arrangement of medical cooperation adding that; “delighted to see China-Uganda health communication & cooperation deepening through closer people-to-people exchanges.”

Studies indicate that despite some progress in addressing health sector challenges, African countries still face challenges among others limited training. A 2022 study published in the British Medical Journal Global Health which surveyed 47 African countries stressed the lack of refresher courses as a major challenge facing the health sector in the region. The study entitled “the health workforce status in the WHO African Region: findings of a cross-sectional study,” revealed that the region’s ratio of well-trained health workers is 1.55 per 1000 people which is below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 4.45 health personnel per 10000 people.

The continent’s health sector challenges are a result of many factors among others inadequate or no training capacity, rapid population growth, weak governance of the health workforce, career changes and poor retention of health worker. In 2022, the WHO projected that the shortage of well-trained health personnel in Africa will grow to 6,100,000 by the year 2030 which is increment of about 45% if compared with figures of 2013 when the last projections were made.

The study; “the health workforce status in the WHO African Region: findings of a cross-sectional study,” recommended that to address these challenges, African countries must put up measures meant to boost training and recruitment of health workers, improve their deployment and retention and increase investments for building respective country’s health workforce to meet their current and future needs.

Reflecting on the above, one can only conclude that such trainings are needed our health sector to grow. China has a rich experience in this field. The country has had several reforms in their medical sector which has seen them become one of few countries with a robust functioning healthcare system and consequently significantly increased their life expectancy which is expected to even get better by the year 2035.

In 2007 for example, China embarked on planning another reform. In 2009, in consultation with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, on 6th April 2009, China’s State Council passed China’s Health Care Reform Plan promising to provide a universal primary health service to then country’s 1.3 billion people with the main being “everyone to enjoy basic health care services. Under this health care reform plan, it is the Government’s responsibility to build a safe, effective, convenient and inexpensive health care system covering both urban and rural residents.

Its major aim was universal health coverage by 2020 through strengthening health care delivery, health security and provision of essential medicines. This policy reform is a long-term endeavor but the returns are worth the investments. In 2022, China listed other key tasks for healthcare reforms major among them being the development of a multi-tiered insurance system.

In order to get the job done, the state council set up a state council health systems reform office where the activities of the reform would be coordinated. The following were the policy reforms.

Under social health security, the social health insurance package was extended, medical aid was extended to the eligible poor and those with catastrophic medical expenditure. The payment system was also reformed. Through this, 95% of the population has been covered by health insurance schemes by the end of 2017 and the so-called catastrophic health insurance introduced in all provinces.

Such a system in Uganda would reduce the burden of out of the pocket health expenditure and reduce suffering of many that find it hard to meet medical bills.

Today, China is implementing Healthy China 2030. The “Healthy China 2030” blueprint, was introduced by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, and it includes 29 chapters that cover key areas that focus on areas like public health services, environment management, the medical industry, and food and drug safety. The Primary goal of “healthy China 2030 is ‘all for Health” while its long-term goal is a universal health security system for China.

Important to note is that “Healthy China 2030” emphases disease prevention and encouraging people to adopt healthy lifestyles, improving the public health service system with aim of ensuring that ordinary residents will have their medical problems diagnosed earlier and so get timely treatment. Lastly, China wants to increase its citizens’ average life expectancy up from 76.34 recorded for 2015, to 77.3 by 2020 and 81 by 2035.

Aware that China is a developing country but has managed to achieve that much, even when it is quite challenging for the African setting, we ought to start on our own reforms. Like the Chinese say, a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. For Uganda, the journey should start with these training opportunities China is extending to Ugandan health workers through China-Uganda health communication & cooperation so that together, we continue efforts of building a community of shared for future for mankind in the new era of win-win cooperation.

Ham Wasswa Matovu is a medical doctor and research fellow at the Development Watch Centre.

Uganda-China Relations: Partnership of Equals and Win-Win Cooperation

By Ndunaka Godswill Chikamso

Like many other countries, Uganda has been seeking foreign investment and partnerships to drive economic development and the country has made significant strides towards economic development in recent years, thanks to the support of various international partners. One such partnership that has been growing in significance is China-Uganda Relations.

China and Uganda have a longstanding relationship dating back to the early 1960s when Uganda gained independence. The relationship has been characterized by cooperation in various areas, including trade, infrastructure development, and education. Over the years, China has provided significant assistance to Uganda in the form of aid, loans, and investments opportunities. In 2018, China was Uganda’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth over $1.2 billion. Since then, Beijing remains one of Uganda’s leading trade partners and major source of foreign direct investments (FDI).

With China introducing zero tariff to Ugandan goods which will see Ninety-eight percent of Ugandan goods accessing Chinese market tariff free, trade between the two countries is expected to grow further. Last year, Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Zhang Lizhong announced the Special Preferential Tariff Treatment of Ugandan Exports to China, explaining that this was in line with commitments made by China at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Senegal last year.

Even before the said Special Preferential Tariff Treatment, China has been investing heavily in Uganda, particularly in infrastructure development projects such as roads, bridges, and power plants. The most notable project is the 51 kilometers Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, which was constructed with a loan from China’s Exim Bank and has greatly improved the country’s transportation sector. Additionally, China has financed the construction of the Karuma and Isimba hydroelectric power plants, which will increase Uganda’s energy capacity and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The entry of Chinese construction firms into Ugandan market is always cited as the reason for reducing billing prices for road construction in Uganda. Indeed, at the time when European companies were dominating road construction business, the construction of one kilometer took about 3.1 billion shillings compared to current rate of about 2.1 billion shillings per kilometer.

China has also invested in Uganda’s telecommunications sector, with Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE playing a significant role in the country’s development of 4G networks and fibre optic cables. This has greatly improved internet connectivity in Uganda and provided opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Another sector that China has played a significant role in Uganda’s economic development is supporting the country’s infrastructure especially road and energy sectors which has in turn helped easing transportation of goods and services and also helped in addressing unemployment challenge. In 2014, while closing a two-day Pan African Youth Conference at Serena International Hotel Conference in Kigali Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni explained that “infrastructure development such as Roads, Electricity and Railway in any country is of importance as it attracts investments and creates jobs for the youths.”

In 2017, while on a visit to Uganda, Christine Lagarde, then Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) credited Uganda for what she described as “Uganda has appropriately embarked on a strategy of scaled-up infrastructure investment in the energy and transport sectors to relieve key growth bottlenecks and enhance regional linkages.” Lagarde argued that “focusing on overcoming implementation challenges, including through strengthening public investment management, should help ensure that these investments yield the desired outcomes in terms of higher growth and job creation.”  If critically analysed, the improvement and development of Uganda’s energy and infrastructure sector became possible largely because of China’s assistance.

Today, Africa’s biggest challenge, especially Sub-Saharan region, is poor and aging infrastructure.  A 2022 study by McKinsey and Company concluded that unless addressed, infrastructure deficits in key sectors such as roads and energy will continue to hinder African countries’ economic growth and development especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study concluded that while the region is faced with high demand of infrastructure development, there are few partners or investors willing to provided huge amounts needed for such projects. Therefore, China’s readiness to back such projects in Uganda and Africa in general cannot be underestimated.

However, while China’s hand in supporting African countries infrastructure is a big boost, Uganda and other African countries must should only borrow and invest in projects that can easily spur economic development as a way of ensuring easy servicing of loan facilities extended while undertaking such infrastructure projects so that issues such as rising debts critics often point at are avoided.

That said, there are multitudes of opportunities that comes with steady and good relations between China and African countries. The other area with huge potential for cooperation is in the field of agriculture. While China is already working with Uganda in this area especially through FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) in which China has since 2015 been supporting agriculture initiatives in Uganda, if projects under SSC especially its phase III are spread throughout the country, more fruits will be realized in a short period. SSC has potential to spark Uganda’s economic development especially if they work together with Uganda government’s introduced Parish Development Model (PDM).  Uganda is an agricultural country, and there is a need to enhance agricultural productivity and value addition. With her rich experience in modern agriculture, China can provide technical support, expertise, and investment towards Uganda’s agricultural sector.

In conclusion, China has played a significant role in Uganda’s economic development, providing funding and investment for critical infrastructure projects. China’s engagement with Uganda has brought many benefits, including employment opportunities, enhanced energy capacity, and improved connectivity. While this has brought several benefits to the country, including job creation and economic diversification, there are also concerns about debt sustainability, environmental impact, and the impact on local industries and businesses. As Uganda continues to seek foreign investment and partnerships, it will be important to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of these relationships and ensure that they are sustainable and equitable.

Ndunaka Godswill Chikamso is a junior research fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre and a Medical student Niger Delta University, Nigeria.

Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Arrangement Between China and Uganda Will Improve Trade and Help URA in Revenue Collections

By Alan Collins Mpewo

 Technology has been prioritised by many countries allover the world because of the advantages and potential hacks that can be exploited. Often times the exploitation has been used to wage war, spying and propaganda. Other nations to the contrary have taken a distant trajectory from the usual, and used technology to outlive the blocks that avail themselves. Much as technology keeps improving and it still gets so much threat from people’s perception, it should be underscored that technology is the future.

Recently, China together with the Uganda Revenue Authority, a public body in charge of Revenue collection in Uganda, had a commemoration of a memorandum of understanding, that the two parties entered into in 2021. The spirit of the memorandum of understanding was the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Mutual recognition arrangement and this was signed at the 5th AEO Global Conference that was held in Dubai.

Uganda would be able to benefit from the arrangement in terms of streamlining trade finance and revenue collection which is aligned to China’s Revenue collection practices and enhancement of trade framework. If critically analysed, the main informing aspect for Uganda to enter this mutual arrangement was on a basis of China’s stand on the global floor of trade. The arrangement was also meant to further the corporation between Uganda and China on the basis of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). This way, Preferential treatment will be accorded to the goods coming from China to Uganda and vice versa. Therefore, this will be a wake-up call for companies that engaged in supply of goods, works, and services to and from Uganda and this can be confirmed to thus far have been achieved on great strides.

Numerous companies have taken part in registration and confirming participation in this great initiative and it can safely be said that there have been more than 5,000 Chinese companies and over 150 from Uganda adapting to this new trade arrangement. The good news with this is that over 230 companies from both countries have since engaged and participated in trade together using the arrangement and about 130 billion have been collected by the Uganda Revenue Authority for the trading done by those companies along the border and within the boundaries of Uganda. The value of the trade between the companies in both countries has also increased in the recent financial year to over 750 billion Ugandan shillings. This goes back to the objectives set out in the various Corporation agreements that two countries have been engaged in, in the recent years.

The most known modern way the countries worldwide are able to facilitate state activities and governments is through revenue collection and this is the main basis for engaging into this kind of arrangement by the two players. Therefore, each country twice as much to simplify not only ways of generating more revenue but also without inconveniencing the taxpayer while maintaining stable means of putting such finances to productive use. As far as application of the revenue is concerned, Uganda still grapples with all possible forms of corruption and should therefore seek as much of lessons from China to make sure that their education of the vice is also a major objective if it wants to make proper realisation of the revenue’s benefits.

The two countries also realised the adverse effects of delay in transportation of goods and services across boundaries and therefore since data is one of the most important resources in a government can have grip on, since this arrangement is also meant to enable easy data sharing on various cargo that would be transported to and from the two countries.

However, with multi border trade comes risks and therefore imperative to come up with risk assessment to measures. In this case, the arrangement was also meant to provide for better grip on the control of the Trade Practices between all key players during transportation and find a delivery of the goods to the consumers. On another bright side, the arrangement has since helped to increase competitiveness among the companies involved in the platform in as far as manufacturing, packaging, delivery, and response to consumer feedback. With clearance now eased, goods and services will be able to reach their final destination in the shortest possible time and also enable the companies involved to compete and set up themselves for better and bigger deals in the trade sector. Presently, more than 20% is being benefited from only the companies that are participating in this arrangement which is a great side and commendable initiative by the two countries. The figures from China are equally promising and therefore an indicator of why good international relations is important and a stable means of achieving much of the goals amongst various nations.

Tax evasion is a crime that many countries grew up with fighting to the nail to make sure that its effects are greatly eradicated. Otherwise, failure to combat such vices undermines efforts that would have been invested. Therefore, this calls for possible forms of compliance with the day’s tax laws, regulations, and practices. The benefits of this arrangement can not be overemphasized, but ultimately, with furthered sensitization, there will be more players joining along the way.

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


The European Global Gateway Initiative Is Good, But They Should Borrow Lessons from China’s BRI

By Ndawula Shemei

 The Global Gateway infrastructure initiative, is by all means and purposes, revolutionary. It marks a radical shift from the hitherto established foreign assistance structure between Europe and African countries like Uganda from a system reliant of foreign developmental, social and medical aid to a focus on foreign direct investment in key areas like infrastructure development, green energy transition and economic transformation with a price tag of €150 billion earmarked for the initiative between 2021 and 2027.

This; in the eyes of the Ugandan public is a very welcome change for it sets a precedence where Uganda can cooperate with historical European partners like Italy, France, Germany and Denmark in areas of mutual interest without the patronizing aid structure that has characterized many of our previous aid agreements. This recent bid to promote sustainable development and economic growth by the European Union through the Global Gateway infrastructure initiative in Uganda and Africa is aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure, including roads, railways, airports, and energy systems which will undoubtedly transform the country’s economic landscape

One of the key areas of focus for the Global Gateway Initiative is the transportation sector. The initiative aims to improve the country’s road network by constructing and rehabilitating several kilometers of roads across the country. This will not only make it easier for people and goods to move around the country but will also reduce the cost of doing business, making Uganda a more attractive destination for investors.

In addition to improving the road network, the Global Gateway initiative will also focus on improving the country’s energy infrastructure. The European Union and its Team Europe partners plan to invest in renewable energy projects, such as hydropower, solar, and wind power, which will help to increase access to electricity in rural areas. This will have a significant impact on the lives of the people living in these areas, as it will provide them with reliable and sustainable energy sources. The initiative will also support the development of Uganda’s private sector by providing funding and technical assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises, a valuable asset in the creation of jobs and in boosting economic growth.

Uganda, and the East African region are best positioned countries which can leverage their unique factors to benefit from this project. It is estimated that East Africa is the fastest growing region economically on the African continent with an average GDP growth of 5%. This makes the region one of the best innovation and progressive industry hubs for foreign investors and governments.

Uganda in particular has got unbridled development potential especially when it comes to natural resource utilization, agriculture and green energy initiatives with over 50% of the East African arable land found within its borders as well as little variability in temperatures, two constant rain seasons annually and an abundance of fertile soils. This is why Uganda is currently the largest sugar producer in Africa and the 10th largest coffee producer in the world (2nd on the continent).  With such potential an inch of investment made in Uganda can quite plausibly stretch a mile of profits with the Global Gateway initiative.

Additionally, with an estimated 7 million rural homesteads in Uganda having immediate access to sufficient land to create direct and indirect employment opportunities for at least ten people, it is possible for commercialized and sustainable agriculture to create several millions of jobs for Uganda’s young population which makes it a perfect destination for foreign direct investment. This is why at the Dubai Expo earlier this year the country was able to attract investment commitments worth an excess of $650m in various sectors of the economy.

With Team Europe’s commitment to catalyze the green energy transition throughout the world Uganda and East Africa are pivotal ally’s in this quest. There have already been achievements Uganda can write home about through the Global Gateway initiative with the European Union last March releasing €152 million in grant financing for the promotion of commercial forestry in the country as well as facilitating gender inclusion in the national economy through the Gender for Development Uganda (G4DU) project.

However, an important lesson the European Union and its partners in team Europe may learn from their counterparts, the Chinese who have in the last 10 years implemented the hugely successful Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The high quality public good (BRI) was put forward by Chinese

President Xi Jinping in 2013, and is jointly built by involved partners whose benefits are shared by over 149 countries and more than 32 international organisations. Without using the project to meddle or influence affairs of other countries, for the last 10 years, BRI has seen investments of close to one trillion USD, supported over 3000 cooperation projects globally and created over 420,000 jobs for citizens in countries the project has routes. The World Bank estimates that despite some shortcomings, over 40 million people globally have benefited from China’s BRI.

Therefore, European Union can borrow some lessons from China’s implementation of BRI such as upholding the principle of non-intervention within the domestic affairs of sovereign states during implementation of the project. This is one particular ramification that has foiled many previous well inspired foreign initiatives especially on the African continent for they are often perceived as “foreign interventions” because of the “strings that come attached”.

More recently this has been seen in a number of cases where some African states and leaders have shown reluctance in embracing the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative championed by the United States of America and indeed some European countries for several principles of the initiative involve inspiring domestic policy change within sovereign nations.

The European Union’s Global Gateway Infrastructure Initiative can prove to be a game-changer for Uganda. With the country’s infrastructure set to receive a significant boost, Uganda is poised to reap the benefits of increased economic growth and development. The initiative is a testament to the European Union and member states like Italy, Germany and France’s commitment to supporting developing countries and promoting sustainable development around the world.

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

China-Uganda Cooperation: Building of a Community of Shared future for Mankind in the New Era

By Allawi Ssemanda

For over six decades, relations between China and Uganda have been growing from strength to strength and in 2019, the cooperation between the two brotherly countries reached a new level with the two sides upgrading their bilateral ties to a comprehensive cooperative partnership. Four years later, looking the practical cooperation between the two countries, the relations have grown in all aspects and improved social-economic conditions of Uganda.

For example, looking at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a high quality public good initiated by China and jointly built by involved partners whose benefits are shared by the world, like the other 149 countries in the project, Uganda is one of them enjoying projects’ sustainable and livelihood-enhancing outcomes.

Today, Uganda is enjoying all the “Five Connectivities” promoted by BRI; Policy connectivity, infrastructure connectivity, trade connectivity, financial connectivity and People-to-people connectivity. While China underscores importance of other sovereign countries like Uganda taking development path with of their own, in this case with Ugandan characteristics suitable to its national conditions, under the BRI, the economic cooperation between Uganda and China is producing much desired outcomes which are important for Uganda’s social and economic development especially China’s support to Uganda’s infrastructure and energy sectors which are key in sparking social-economic development.

Looking at Trade Connectivity which is promoted under the BRI projects, the good relations between the two countries have seen increase of trade volumes in five consecutive years. For example, in 2022, bilateral trade volumes increased by 6.6% reaching 1.13 billion USDs while in first quarter of 2023, the bilateral trade volume between Uganda and China grew by 28.8% reaching 293 million dollars.

Relatedly, last year China introduced preferential trade arrangement for Ugandan products granting zero-tariff treatment to at least 98% of Ugandan taxable items that will be entering Chinese market. With such arrangements, Ugandan products especially from agriculture sector will enjoy Chinese market which will in the long run grow Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings.

From financial connectivity front, Chinese enterprises continue to invest in Uganda’s economy which has seen China’s direct investments into Uganda growing to a whooping 131 million USD as of December 2022, putting Uganda in the 10th position in regard to Chinese investments on the continent. According to Uganda Investments Authority and the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, this year alone, 17 new Chinese Enterprises in sectors such as food processing, textile industries and home appliances entered into Uganda’s Liao Shen Industrial Park and China-Uganda Mbale Industrial Park. These investments only brought over 84 million USD of new capital injections which is a boast to Uganda’s economy on top of creating employment opportunities to over 2,200 for locals.


On the other three connectives, namely; Policy connectivity, and infrastructure connectivity, and People-to-People connectivity have equally and largely been realised. For example, in regard to People-to-People connectivity, it is one of a major success story between China and Uganda. Indeed, while updating Ugandan media and think tanks on the practical cooperation between China and Uganda, Zhang Lizhong, the Chinese ambassador to Uganda observed that since 2016, more than 6000 Ugandans have attended training and seminars in fields of agriculture, medical care, public administration, infrastructure among others.    Also, hundreds of Ugandan students have been given scholarship opportunities by Chinese government in an effort to support Uganda’s human capital development.

The other arguably most important practical project signifying the practical cooperation between China and Uganda is the China-FAO-Uganda South-South Cooperation project. In its first two phases (Phase I and II), on top of sending 47 agricultural experts into the country to train and equip Ugandans with modern farming skills and techniques, China contributed 3.33 million USD to support agriculture sector. Today, in the on-going Phase III, with a budget of 2.39 million USD, more than 9600 farmers from different parts of the country will benefit from this project with focus on women and youth. Also, under this project, at least 200 Ugandan technical officers will be trained and equipped with agricultural skills so as to further train Ugandans.

As a result of China-FAO-Uganda South-South Cooperation project, during their two years stay, the 47 Chinese agricultural experts and technicians are expected to train Ugandans to improve technologies used in production with focus on rice, grapes, cherry tomatoes, foxtail millet, and apples among others. If critically analysed, this project will help improve on exchanging mechanisation, agro-processing and value-addition expertise in Uganda’s agriculture sector. Indeed, Rice farmers in Butaleja are already seeing practical results of such cooperation with a China donated two million USD Rice Farming and Processing Machinery and Equipment donated to the rice farmers in the district.

With all the above contribution, it is evident that working with China is no threat, but rather a source of win-win cooperation as the world moves to build a shared future of shared prosperity for mankind in the new era. With examples of visible benefits from Belt and Road Initiative, as Chinese ambassador to Uganda recently observed, it is clear that “China is a major global contributor whose engagements with and outputs to the international community bring opportunities rather than crisis, facilitate cooperation rather than conflicts and create stability rather than uncertainty.”

Allawi Ssemanda is a Research Fellow at Development Watch Centre


Ugandans Increasingly Benefitting from China’s Agricultural Initiatives

By Moshi Israel

Development assistance comes in many forms and at various levels. It can be extended to governments and its institutions, to private institutions and to local communities. China has been involved in all forms of development assistance to Uganda.

It is important for local communities to benefit from development aid because they are at the center of national development strategies. The local communities in Uganda largely depend on Agriculture to make ends meet. It is the reason why Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy. Agriculture is a lucrative venture in Uganda despite obvious obstacles. The sector employs 70% of the population, contributes half of Uganda’s export earnings and a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP).  Therefore, investment in local communities and in Agriculture is paramount to shaping Uganda’s economic development.

The Chinese government and private sector are having a profound imprint on Uganda’s progress to a middle-income country. China’s extended hand of friendship has touched the very core of Ugandan society and testimonies from the beneficiaries are everywhere for all to see.

China has strengthened its already cordial relationship with Uganda by increasing its presence in the country and injecting much needed aid into the very backbone which keeps Uganda’s economy standing straight. Uganda has received project aid in form of interest free loans and grants from her Chinese friends.  Projects like Kibimba and Doho rice schemes, are one of many initiatives that validate Uganda-China Partnership.

Rice farming has been a leading project of interest by china in Butaleja district in Uganda. Here, the local communities attest to milestones achieved due to direct collaboration with China.  A number of local farmers have benefited from hybrid rice farming in the district. Rice farming has radically shifted the fortunes of local farmers and enriched the community. Locals have attested to being elevated from absolute poverty. Some have been able to build homes, educate their children and purchase previously unaffordable luxuries. Women are also increasingly contributing to household incomes by participating in rice farming. China has also purchased state of the art machinery to further modernize farming in the area. This machinery is set to arrive in Butaleja district anytime. Farmers are also supplementing rice farming with the growing of fruits such as mangoes and water melons for commercial purposes. Butaleja has become a reputable hub for rice and is supplying their products to other regions.

Additionally, as they say, one good turn deserves another. The best practices of rice farming in Butaleja have the potential to be replicated in other regions of Uganda which would boost the Agricultural sector nationally. Besides, some farmers in Butaleja already export their products to neighbouring Kenya.

Then there is the tripartite partnership Uganda has with China and FAO. The three partners plan to implement phase three of the FAO China-Uganda South-South Cooperation (SSC).This three-year $12m (Shs44b) project would benefit over 9000 farmers. The project aims at improving crop, livestock and fish production. Consequently, 3000 women, 1,000 livestock farmers and 100 fish farmers in 30 districts are set to gain from technical instruction and knowledge-sharing with Chinese experts. According to the project head, Mr. Zhang Xiaoqiang, the beneficiaries will be selected in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and district agriculture officials. Furthermore, during the event at the Kajjansi Aquaculture Research and Development Center, H.E the Ambassador, Zhang Lizhong, assured Ugandans that the project is one of many vital collaborations between Uganda and China, and the latter will continue to support Uganda by sending experts to share knowledge with local farmers.

In the long term, thousands of youths and women will have improved livelihoods by earning an income without overcrowding the already bloated formal job market that has left many Ugandans frustrated.

China has also aided in the setup of Wakawaka fish landing site and] Kajjansi Aquaculture Training Center. Coffee, fish, cotton, tea and various food products are among Uganda’s major exports. The country is a food basket in the region.

China has a very good eye for opportunities and identifying the agriculture sector of Uganda as a major recipient of development assistance is a wonderful exhibition of their mature diplomacy and tact. This is how local communities tell the difference between serious allies and opportunists. A true friend seeks to improve those areas about you that are vital for your progress. This is what the agriculture partnership between Uganda and China is yielding.

Once, every local farmer can access modern ways of farming and implement them to their logical end, then Uganda is on its merry way to unprecedented economic development. Uganda’s tax base is limited due to rampant poverty. However, if the common people can utilise their naturally endowed land and earn a living with a decent income, then the tax base dramatically changes for the best and the country at large benefits.

The partnership between Uganda and China underlines one important tenet; there is no national development without uplifting local communities. It is good news that China understands and appreciates this fact.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with Development Watch Centre



China-Uganda Engagement: An Afrocentric Analysis of the Relations

By Shivansh Trivedi

Over the past decade, China has emerged as a key player in Uganda’s economic development. The country has invested heavily in infrastructure projects, provided significant loans and grants, and facilitated the development of key sectors such as energy and industry. This opinion explores the role of China towards Uganda’s economic development, identifying key strategies and approaches that have led to success so far while examining the benefits of these engagements.

China-Uganda relations dates back to 1960s before Uganda gained her independence from Britain. Since then, China has been actively involved in Uganda’s economic development largely through trade. Initially, this partnership focused on agriculture, trade and infrastructure projects, with China investing heavily in the construction of roads, bridges, and other key transportation networks. One notable example is the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, a 51-kilometer highway linking the capital city to its international airport.

China has also played a major role in Uganda’s energy sector. The country has been grappling with power shortages for decades, which have limited economic growth and development. Chinese investments in hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines, and grid upgrades have helped to address this problem. One of the notable examples is the Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station, which has a capacity of 600 megawatts and is being constructed by Chinese company Sinohydro. The project is expected to significantly increase Uganda’s power generation capacity and reduce the country’s reliance on expensive imported fuels.

Apart from infrastructure and energy, China has also invested significantly in Uganda’s telecommunications sector. The country has been expanding its broadband connectivity and upgrading its digital infrastructure rapidly, with Chinese firms such as Huawei at the forefront of this development. Uganda has also signed agreements with China on the development of a national data center, which will help to consolidate the country’s digital infrastructure and enable it to better harness the benefits of the digital economy.

One notable case study in China-Uganda economic relations is the Entebbe International Airport expansion project. In December 2020, the airport unveiled its newly completed $200 million expansion, which was largely funded by the Export-Import Bank of China. The project involved the construction of a new terminal building capable of handling up to 5 million passengers annually, as well as numerous upgrades to existing facilities. This project is credited for creating over 1,500 jobs for Ugandans, while also facilitating greater connectivity and tourism opportunities for the country. In an interview with CGTN Africa, Works and Transport minister, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, praised China’s involvement in this project, noting that “the Chinese are not only investing in hard infrastructure, but also in soft infrastructure, which is a great catalyst for our economic development.”

If we analyze all sectors, China is playing a critical role in Uganda’s economic development. Its investments in infrastructure, energy, and telecommunications have helped to address key development challenges and unlock new opportunities for growth and prosperity. However, there is also a need to be cautious about the extent to which China’s involvement in Uganda’s development agenda is sustainable and aligned with the country’s long-term needs and aspirations.

Moving forward, Uganda needs to adopt an Afrocentric approach that is based on its own development priorities rather than those of its partners. This requires a careful balancing of interests and priorities, and a deep understanding of the implications of different investment models and approaches. It is important for Uganda to leverage its own natural resources and strategically position itself in key sectors that can drive long-term economic growth and transformation. The good news is that historically and in practice, unlike western development partners, China does not interfere in internal affairs of allies that it will resist such important moves.

For Uganda to maximize relations with China, it needs to adopt a holistic approach that goes beyond infrastructure, energy, agriculture, and manufacturing. This means diversifying its partnerships with China to include sectors such as tourism, health and education. While China has also been supporting Uganda’s health sector especially through its visiting medical teams, this sector can further be strengthened. In addition, Uganda should prioritize skills transfer and capacity building to ensure that Chinese investments are catalytic. This can be achieved through the establishment of joint training programs, technology transfer agreements, and collaboration between academic and research institutions. While China is already providing thousands of trainings and scholarships, this is an area that can be improved by offering more opportunities.

Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP III) provides a useful guide for this approach, as it emphasizes a focus on promoting industrialization, job creation, and export diversification. The plan highlights key sectors that are critical for driving economic growth, such as agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. Uganda needs to leverage these sectors and ensure that Chinese investments align with its own development priorities. With the many Chinese led industrial parks such as Kapeeka and Mbale, this will not be hard to achieve.

The cooperation between Uganda and China are textbook example of a win-win cooperation promoted by Chinese president, Xi Jinping. For example; For Uganda, the partnership with China provides a critical source of funding for key development projects that would otherwise be difficult to finance. It also facilitates the transfer of technology and skills, which in turn can contribute to long-term economic growth and diversification. Additionally, the partnership can help to position Uganda as a key player in regional integration and cooperation, which is critical for unlocking new opportunities for trade and investment.

For China, investments in Uganda represent an opportunity to expand its footprint in Africa and access new markets for its products and services. It also provides a way to diversify its own economic interests and reduce its dependence on traditional western markets.

In conclusion, China has played a critical role in Uganda’s economic development over the past decades. The partnership has focused on infrastructure, energy, agriculture, industrialization and telecommunications which are key in addressing key development challenges and unlocked new opportunities for growth and prosperity. Moving forward, Uganda needs to adopt an Afrocentric approach that prioritizes its own development priorities and maximizes the benefits of its partnership with China. This requires a careful balancing of interests and priorities and a long-term perspective that takes into account both short-term gains and long-term sustainability.

Shivansh Trivedi is a Research Fellow with Sino-Uganda Research Centre and a Contributor with Al Jazeera’s AJ Stream.


Diplomacy and Economic Development: Taking Stock of China-Uganda Relations

By Nanziri Christine

The world today considers diplomacy vital in shaping and developing countries’ economies. As a landlocked country in East Africa, establishing diplomatic relations with various countries is considered one of the ways to boost Uganda’s economy. Through economic diplomacy from both sides, to a greater extent, Uganda continues to attract Chinese investments in different sectors a trend that started 60 years ago and improved from strength to strength in the last two decades that today, for consecutive years, China tops Uganda’s source of foreign direct investments!

China’s role in Uganda’s economic development is evident in various forms, including infrastructure development, education, health, agriculture, and trade. Last year, the two countries celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations. China was one of the first nations to recognise the newly independent nation, Uganda, and the relationship between the two has been strengthened by China’s policy of non-interference in internal affairs of others.

China has been involved in Uganda’s infrastructural development, positively impacting the economy of Uganda as a whole and neighbouring countries. Examples include the construction of Uganda’s largest hydropower dams, Karuma and Isimba power dams, which have increased Uganda’s electricity generation capacity. Other China supported infrastructure projects include roads, with China funding the glamorous Entebbe express highway.

China has equally positively impacted Uganda’s healthcare sector. China has so far sent 21 medical teams to Uganda to support its medical healthcare services plus building a 100-bed – China-Uganda friendship hospital (Naguru hospital) to boost Uganda’s health. When the Covid 19 pandemic broke out, as the rest of major economies of the world embraced vaccine nationalism, China religiously amplified her support donating the much-needed medical supplies to Uganda.

The Agriculture, fishing and trade sectors have also been developed through China’s training programs and the provision of equipment. For example, the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre Kajjansi also known as China-Uganda Friendship Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centre is one of many vivid examples in this sector.

Relatedly, working with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2009 China introduced a new programme dubbed FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) and created a FAO-China Trust Fund with $30 million to specifically support Uganda’s agriculture sector. In 2015, China launched the second phase of SSC and injected $50million before adding another $50million in phase III which was launched in 2021. During implementation of SSC’s phase II, China funded and sent 47 Chinese agricultural experts and technicians on a two years mission to train Ugandans to improve technologies used in production of rice, grapes, cherry tomatoes, foxtail millet, and apples among others. The project focused on exchanging mechanisation, agro-processing and value-addition expertise. Considering the multiplier effects that comes with such projects, the role of China in Uganda’s agriculture sector cannot be ignored.

In trade, last year China announced a preferential trade arrangement for Ugandan goods granting zero-tariff treatment to 98% of imports from Uganda – a development that in many ways will widen the market for Uganda’s agricultural produce. Agriculture sector is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, with over 70% of the country’s population deriving their livelihood from it.

China has also invested in Uganda’s mining sector, majorly in the exploration of oil and gas. Uganda and Tanzania are seeking funding from China to develop an export pipeline before 2025. China’s willingness to fund Uganda’s oil sector leaves us in a privileged position to have China as a creditable development and business partner are evident. Future plans for the oil industry and exploration by the Chinese North Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) by 2025 will boost Uganda’s economy, transforming the standard of living of the majority of Ugandans through job creation for both skilled and unskilled citizens in the oil and gas sector.

In human capital capacity development, China’s hand is visible. As of today, China has provided thousands of scholarship opportunities to Ugandans, including both short and long courses.

Generally, talking about Uganda’s economic development journey without mentioning China’s role makes the analysis incomplete. The unique part is that unlike other cooperation between Uganda and other traditional development partners, China-Uganda cooperation is partnership of equals, mutual trust and is based on win-win cooperation.

However, Sino-African critics have always claimed that Chinese development assistance especially infrastructure funding is leaving Uganda and some other African countries heavily indebted with the so-called debt trap. However, while we cannot completely dismiss voices against over borrowing, such sweeping statements should be cautiously listened too. Today, as a result of global politics and changing global order, it is clear that there is a calculated move meant to discredit Sino-Africa relations which has seen many of critics cherry-picking facts when it comes to critiquing China’s development assistance to developing world. However, to allay fears of critics, Uganda and in general all developing countries should aim to remain responsible borrowers and only go for loans when very necessary. Otherwise, it is unfair to carry on sweeping statements of the so-called debt diplomacy and misinterpret China’s good will of offering development assistance that China is hiding what critics claim to be ulterior motives.

In conclusion, it is indisputable that China plays a major role in Uganda’s economic development. The relationship between the two countries is characterized by mutual benefit and cooperation, with both countries working together to promote economic development and improve the wellbeing of their people and build a community of shared prosperity for mankind. It’s pertinent therefore for countries around the world to continue cooperating in order to ensure that economic development is experienced by all nations and build a world of shared future with shared prosperity.

Nanziri Christine is a law student at UCU and a Junior Research Fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre.

China-Uganda Relations: As it Was During Colonial Rule, China Remains a Reliable Development Partner!

By Musanjufu Benjamin Kavubu

China and many African countries have shared a history regarding the sense of imperialism and colonialism. China was not so long ago under the colonial rule of Japan and some of its territories like Hong Kong under Britain. China’s Communist Party set an example and also went ahead to support African independence struggles. Even with its rich history, China can be credited with the front of economic growth that has a basis on the political will of CPC and its leaders from the days of Chairman Mao to to-date where CPC Secretary General and President of China Xi Jinping advocates for building a community with shared prosperity for mankind.

Like every global player for China Africa is part of its economic playground and places like Uganda are both its geopolitical and geo-economic outposts. One may then wonder if Uganda is just a pony on a grander chessboard. It depends on how you watch events and the perceived results. What makes news is Beijing’s economic strategy and it’s in a few cases in the past decades save for its ambitions unify its claimed territory of Taiwan when China’s military strategy has come under the world’s microscope. Even with the military bases in the South China Sea and some off the African coast, the answer is supply chain interests that facilitate its trade with the world. Put differently, China has never been a coloniser and to date, if critically analysed, Beijing bears no such ambitions but rather win-win cooperation where countries world over benefit from a win-win cooperation under world order where each country’s sovereignty is respected!

Unlike the British Empire that is only visible today through a shadow of Common Wealth nations that kicked off with military expeditions and remained in place with the power of the gun and the United States hegemony that has a thirst for energy resources also backed with senseless wars, China has had this supposed strong foothold on the world and places like Uganda with no boots on the ground in terms of soldiers or even private contractors. China chooses economic diplomacy and it has run lately on projects like the famous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Maltiplarism through BRICS a block made up of Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa which unlike the G7, BRICS advocates for equality of all countries as well as respect for all irrespective of their size or military might.

Nothing has brought criticism to Beijing like the true intentions of the Belt and Road Initiative a project that has seen China seriously considering and supporting developing countries’ infrastructure development loans to among others construct, sea ports, airports, rail line networks and roads from Africa to Americas, from Asia to Europe all aimed to facilitating trade. This development has arguably revolutionized developing countries’ infrastructure development which organisations like world bank have continuously said they receive very low funding despite being key in social-economic development aspect.

Sadly, some people claim BRI is about China taking out raw materials and bringing back low-quality products through its massive web of the supply chain, with other critics of China especially from the West who often cherry-pick and ignore reality and brand China’s generous infrastructure development assistance as “debt trap.”


For a moment picture this China through EXIM bank provides a loan to Uganda to construct a hydropower dam on the Nile River, in the process technology is imported and at the end of it, all rural electrification is achieved which will facilitate industrialisation leading to employment, in turn creating a population with disposable income that is used to develop microeconomics of households that bring further education and research in the academia field. It’s from such initiatives that a real middle class is a bred that will in the end consume quality Chinese products because of the disposable income. The question is who wins? A real middle class that pays taxes will in the long run offset the loan for the dam, a real middle class will trade and create a functional society. A functional society has no appetite for civil war or trade in arms and that will ensure civility and a level of peacetime. That sounds like true economic development!

In the past two decades, Ugandans that speak Mandarin have increased and it’s not because it’s part of the school syllabus even if they are few language schools in Kampala that offer to teach it. The main reason for Mandarin in Africa is the increased scholarships that Beijing is offering. There is a likelihood that every Uganda knows someone close who has travelled to China for education on a fully Chinese government funded scholarship. When these people return after studying, they have contributed to the local academia and thus bettering the educational sector that is very fundamental in economic development. Whatever China’s foreign agenda policy is behind shipping Ugandans to China educating them and sending them back it’s to our society’s advantage in the long run.

China has a thirst and also a shortage for oil in its massive industrialization scheme and on that note, it’s watched carefully through its activities on the energy market. CNOC is one of the partners of Uganda in the oil sector and the company’s efforts can’t be downplayed in the facilitation of black gold’s take-off in the country. It’s a writing on the wall that if the oil sector is handled well by the state and its full potential is realised, then it will overturn the economic prospects of the nation. Today, many Ugandans in Albertine region have already seen fruits from oil sector especially through CNOC’s cooperate social responsibility where social services for communities are looked at as well as employment opportunities! The other most striking example are modern houses CNOC constructed for people affected by oil project in Kingfisher oil field.

Uganda like most African countries will seem like small pieces in China’s economic strategy but the reality these tiny pieces are useful and all need to work. China at some point will even go beyond its comfort zone to ensure these pieces function as expected beyond United Nations Security Council speeches where it’s a permanent member. It is important that the war in Ukraine and the new world order on the horizon led by players like China Kampala maintain a strong relationship with Beijing to realise further economic development.

While China’s critics and Sino-Africa skepticists especially in the West claim that China’s engagement with African countries is guided by what they claim to be Beijing’s “selfish interests” at times with absurd claims that most African countries have received fewer tangible benefits from China relations the reality is that where greatly or otherwise, tangible or otherwise, China-Africa relations are working and wonders are being created! The fact that China respects African countries sovereignty and that these relations are based on equality not the West’s assumed big brother role, African countries should jealously guard these relations! As African countries demand for equality and permanent representation at the UN security Council, it is clear that China at some point will ensure this dream becomes a reality by supporting Africans as they did while Africans fought against brutal colonial rulers.

Musanjufu Benjamin Kavubu is a Junior Research Fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre.


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.


Development Watch Centre

Kampala - Uganda


Plot 212, RTG Plaza,3rd Floor, Office Number C7 - Hoima Road, Rubaga


+256 703 380252

© DWC - All rights reserved - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy