Understanding the benefits of China-Uganda relations: A tale from Ugandan

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No matter how cliché it may sound, no one can be on his or her own, we all at one moment need
support from our colleague(s). In context of nation-state relations and international relations, all
countries world over need support from each other. In context of development, especially
developing countries rely on support from allies to boast their development agendas.
Uganda is one of the developing countries making positive strides in the country’s development
efforts. To achieve this, it is worth talking and acknowledging countries whose relations with
Kampala support Uganda’s development efforts.

Looking at all sectors that are vital for a country’s social and economic development, Uganda’s
journey is incomplete without mention the role played by the People’s Republic of China. From
infrastructure to trade and investments, agriculture, education, health and human capital
development, China has been a catalyst in Uganda's economic development path. The bilateral
relations between the two countries started just days after Uganda gained her independence and
have been elevating from time to time. Today, the relationship between Kampala and Beijing are
at its peak.
In addition to that, following the increased Chinese companies and firms in Uganda, many
Ugandans have attained employment which has helped them to have better standards of living
and end poverty in various Ugandan families for example, over 1000 Ugandans employed in
Kapyeka industrial park with other thousands in other Chinese firms and parks in the country.
In education sector, for several decades, China has been supporting Ugandan scholars in
education sector offering thousands of scholarships opportunities and trainings to Ugandans.
Aware that human capital development is key in development process of a country, this is an
area that cannot be swept under the carpet. China has also been offering training opportunities to
Ugandan civil servants including medical personnel which is very vital as far as capacity
building is concerned.

In technology, China has also has also played an active role supporting the country’s
technological advancement journey. Huawei for example has been supporting young Ugandans
technological innovations. During the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in
Johannesburg, South Africa, China promised to support 10,000 African villages connected to
satellite Television. After the Uganda Communications Commission announced deadline for all
television to go digital, Chinese firm Star Times promptly intervened and since 2018, Uganda,
star times has connected a number of areas in the country with Startimes Television network.
Though one may look at Star Times investments from a business angle, it is also a fact that it has
being a fordable, it has helped thousands of people to remain connected.

From the economic perspective, trade between the two countries has increased and is still
booming. For example, statistics shows that Beijing-Kampala trade has quadrupled from
$230million in 2008 to over than $1billion in 2020. Uganda has emerged as a potential market

for many Chinese businesses, both state-owned and private firms. Chinese investments in
Uganda benefit the country in both direct and indirect ways including providing employment
opportunities to tens of thousands of Ugandans.
In agriculture sector, China is also a house hold name in Uganda. A few years after Uganda’s
independence, China supported Uganda government to establish Kibimba rice scheme the first of
its kind in the country. Since then, China has been supporting Uganda’s agriculture sector
extending its agricultural technology to both Uganda’s small- and large-scale agribusiness
projects including offering training skills to Ugandans by Chinse agriculture scientists and
experts. In March 2022, Chinese government and Uganda’s signed a 20M USD project toward
Uganda’s social and livelihoods projects to be undertaken under Parish Development Model.
China is also supporting mushroom growing in the country which supports women and youth
projects. PRC has also been supporting bamboo growing in Uganda not only as a way of
supporting the country in environmental conservation but also source of income.

In health Sector, China continues to play a brotherly role in supporting Uganda’s efforts of
building a strong and functioning health system. China is credited for having funded the
construction of China-Uganda friendship hospital also known as Naguru Hospital. To date,
China supports the hospital with medical supplies and medical personnel. In same way, during
Covid pandemic, China stood shoulder to shoulder with Uganda and other African countries by
offering them then much needed medical supplies and vaccines that the Global North had
decided to hoard. Actually, since 1983, China has been sending tens of medical experts to
Uganda annually to provide Ugandans with medical services. Last week, another team of
Chinese medical experts arrived in the country to start offering services in Ugandan hospital.

Mugisha Ambrose is a junior Research Fellow with Development Watch Centre, a Foreign
Policy Think Tank.


Development Watch Centre

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