President Yoweri Museveni has commended the Chinese companies that have invested in Uganda in the sectors of defence, power generation, oil and gas, steel and agro-processing and thanked the Chinese government for providing loans for the construction of the Karuma and Isimba power dams.
The President was recently meeting the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, at the Great Peoples Hall in Beijing China during a bilateral meeting.
“I thank China for supporting Uganda in its anti-colonial struggle and for the loans to build Karuma and Isimba dams. As government, our emphasis is on the importance of the Standard Gauge Railway, hydro power and a few defence items,” he said.
President Museveni welcomed the idea of a joint feasibility study for the railway project and for the Industrial training centre.
The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said his government was willing to conduct a joint feasibility study with Uganda for the Standard gauge railway before advance financial support is made.
He also said his government is willing to establish an industrial training centre to provide the required skills for the new investments.
“This will be an institution providing training to young people. The skills passed on here will be required for the new manufacturing companies including the railway project. China will continue to encourage more companies to make investments in Uganda,” he said.
Premier Li Keqiang said his government will continue to emphasize training and experience sharing with Uganda.
Later, President Museveni paid a courtesy call on the Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, equivalent to the speaker of the National Assembly Zhang Dejiang. He thanked him or the collaboration his institution has with the Ugandan parliament.
“Uganda had triple problems before including colonialism, underdevelopment, political and market fragmentation. We have been fighting these enemies and have move a distance with the integrated market. We are grateful to China for supporting our struggle for development,” he said.
Speaker Zhang Dejiang who visited Uganda before, said his visit offered him a deep understanding of Uganda.
“I enjoyed the stability, development and huge economic potential that Uganda offers. If Vision 2040 to transform Uganda is implemented, we have high hopes in those achievements,” he said.
The President was forced to hold 17 meetings on one day to plead for economic collaboration, infrastructure support.
Museveni’s visit and calls for investments in Uganda generated unprecedented levels of interest among the Chinese Companies with his protocol office at one point pushed to accommodate 17 meetings of investors in one day with the President ranging from Bankers (the Export-Import Bank of China and The China Development Bank), The China Communication Construction Company (CCCC), The China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), China International Water and Electricity Company (CWE), the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), the China North Industries Company and a delegation led by the governor of Liaoning Province in China. Other investors included those from the telecommunications and automobile sectors.
“Our government wants to corporate with the people of the Republic of China in a number of areas. There are areas were the banks can play a central role like infrastructure development including electricity, roads, railway – this is government to government. But the Private sector has many more areas of cooperation that they can support including minerals and mineral development, agro processing, We are dying for agro-processing. We produce so much but we can’t add value on these products,” he said.
The President urged investors to exploit Uganda’s economic potential by investing in manufacturing.
“The Problem with Uganda is that the entrepreneurial class is small and it is in housing, construction, transport etc but not in manufacturing. If we can get companies to process fruits, cereals, textiles, coffee etc it would expand our economic base,” he said.
The President urged the China Development Bank to work with the Uganda development bank and fund the private sector.
“We had many problems in the past but we have been reducing them, especially the strategic bottlenecks. It would be important to work with UDB to fund entrepreneurship to go into manufacturing and services. We have capitalised UDB but we need to do more,” he said.