By Ivan Agaba.
The co-operation between china and Uganda marked a turning point in the history of development in Uganda. The bilateral relationship between China and Uganda has been elevated to a comprehensive co-operative partnership and with the joint efforts of both sides, bilateral relations have been growing steadily and rapidly, with continuously enhanced mutual trust, fruitful results in practical co-operation and close co-ordination in international and regional affairs.
At present, China-Uganda relationship is at its best in history and has emerged even more consolidated from the test of covid-19.
In the last four years, president Xi jinping and president Yoweri Museveni have met with each other three times, reaching a series of important consensuses that provide clear orientation and strong impetus to the development of bilateral relations.
Over the past years, china and Uganda have been supporting each other in solidarity in well and woe. There is no better example than the joint efforts in the face of the challenge of a century -the covid-19 pandemic.
The two countries and people have been fighting shoulder to shoulder against the virus, sparing no effort to safe guard life and health. The support extended to each other during these trying times has left a touching chapter of solidarity in the history of china- Uganda relations.
We will not forget the important role the national stadium of Uganda (Namboole), a china aided project, has played by serving as a temporary hospital for the fight against the pandemic.
The Chinese medical team at the China-Uganda friendship hospital spared no effort to help as our country races to contain the virus. In same context, China has on many occasions invited the Ugandan health experts to participate in video conferences on technical exchanges and connected Chinese medical institutions with Ugandan hospitals to share experiences.
In infrastructure sector, many of Uganda’s major projects have been commissioned or have made substantive progress which include Kampala express way, the first of its kind in the country, Isimba hydro power plant, karuma hydro power plant, among others all have Chinese support. For any economy to be productive, at some point, you will need power to support industrialization which China through its technocrats have helped Uganda in constructing and financing these major projects. Upgrading and expansion of Entebbe international airport, rural electrification project, oil drilling in the Albertine region by CNOOC of china, construction of an airport at kaabale in Hoima oil city all shows the benefits of the good relations between the two sister countries. A deep analysis shows that all these projects are serving to lower the cost of investment and doing business in Uganda, providing enhanced foundation for further social-economic development of Uganda.
In field the field of trade, from 2017 to 2020, Uganda investments authority figures show that the trade between the two countries amounted to $3.177 billions, with Uganda export to china rising by 18.5% from$33.41millions to $39.69millions per annum.
The total foreign direct investment from China to Uganda stands at $672millions, some going to the building of industrial parks, which is one of the priorities of Uganda’s country building. Such parks including Kapeeka industrial park and mbale industrial park have several Chinese investments like in the park are investments managed by China’s Zhong Da Group and Zhang’s Group. These investments have created tens of thousands of employment opportunities and many products proudly made in Uganda. The China aided industrial skills training and production Centre and the luban workshop commissioned by president Yoweri Museveni are also worth mentioning.
As a friendly country to Uganda, China also provided support to Uganda in other crucial fields such as emergency food assistance, locust control, flood relief, Ebola prevention, refugee relief, customs modernization and access to satellite Tv for 10,000 African villages project in Uganda. The lida packaging products limited which produces masks locally in Uganda is another highlight.
China’s people to people exchanges program have also made remarkable achievements. From 2017 to 2020, over 376 Ugandan students have been offered scholarships to study in China and over 1500 Ugandans attended workshops in China in a variety of fields, including public administration, economic and trade, vocational skills, agriculture, health, education and sports among many others. This project will help Uganda develop further since it supports human development capital.
With continued local efforts and support from friendly countries like China, it is a matter of time, the long-awaited middle-income status is surely in the corner since drivers of a sustainable economy are almost being finalized by Ugandan government with support and investments from friendly allies like the people’s Republic of China. If the mutual trust and benefits between the two countries continues, there is no doubt that development in Uganda will hit double standards.
China, after all is a good example to Uganda as a developing country, Uganda has a lot to learn from China’s success that saw the country once with a big number of poor citizens ending extreme poverty in a record set time thanks to China’s ruling communist party that is now celebrating 100 years of existence. This way, as a Ugandan there are many reasons to join Chinese in cerebrating CPCs 100 years since their success has a bearing on ours.
Agaba Ivan, Research assistant with Development Watch Centre, a Foreign Policy Think Tank.