Beijing, China | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has left for a four day working visit to China, where he will attend the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and meet President Xi Jinping.
Museveni has on several occasions hailed China’s financing of infrastructure development in Africa, saying it will fast track the continent’s development.
One of the projects that has not progressed as fast as thought though is the Special Gauge Railway (SGR), and it will likely be back on the table for discussion when Museveni arrives in Beijing. Construction reached Nairobi from Mombasa, but financing talks to extend it to the other partners Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda have stalled.
Responding to concerns about Chinese loan infrastructure projects last year while in Britain, the President said the Chinese are doing great on the continent despite a few issues that can be managed.
“I don’t speak Chinese, I speak English. But if English does not bring factories what do we do? he asked before citing various projects that are supported by China through soft loans including the Karuma Hydro power dam, Isimba Dam, the ceramics factory and the Phosphates factory under implementation.
“We are negotiating the railways project. This coupled with electricity will bring the cost of doing business down. We had huge deposits of phosphates for a long time and tried to hog it around for the West but they were not interested until the Chinese came in,” he said.
He will wind his tour by attending the First China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo June 27 in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan province.
With 14 events, 53 African countries and more than 10,000 guests, the expo is committed to injecting strong impetus into the development of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation in the new era by pooling more resources and mobilizing more driving forces, according to the People’s Daily of China.
The expo is an implementation of the eight major initiatives put forward at the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit.
Exhibitions featuring five major areas will be launched, in a bid to help China-Africa cooperation yield pragmatic achievements in various sectors including trade, agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, financial sector, and infrastructure.
Trade cooperation between China and Africa enjoys steady progress and sound momentum of development. Statistics indicated that China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for ten consecutive years, with volume of bilateral trade reaching $204.2 billion in 2018, up 20 percent year-on-year.
China and Africa have continuously improved bilateral trade structure.
Last year, China’s export of mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products to Africa accounted for 56 percent of its total value of exports to Africa, while the country’s imports from Africa realized a year-on-year growth of 32 percent.
Import of agricultural products rose by 22 percent from the previous year, representing a significant increase in non-resource imports from Africa.
Additional reporting the PD CHINA