President Museveni has asked Chinese companies to invest in Africa stating that the continent is very rich in natural resources.
He made the call on Thursday during his address to the second Uganda-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
“Africa is a very rich continent. It is confusing for outsiders to see such a rich continent with a lot of poverty,” he said.
President Museveni said that after analysis, the government of Uganda has identified ten bottlenecks that have kept the country and the African continent poor.
These include: ideological disorientation, weak states, interference with private sector, under-developed infrastructure, fragmented markets: market access and expansion, lack of industrialization and low value addition, under-development of human resources, under development of agriculture, under-development of the service sector, non-responsive civil service and attack on democracy and governance.
The President said that these bottlenecks affect the profitability of enterprises.
“Infrastructure is a very big problem because it affects migration of businesses. Businesses cannot come here when we have got high costs of electricity and transport,” he said.
He said that the Government of Uganda is taking steps to address the identified bottlenecks.
“Africa with still some of these bottlenecks, the rate of return is higher than in Europe. With improved electricity, transport and cost of money, the return will be much higher than it is right now,” he said.
President Museveni thanked the Chinese Government for its contribution to addressing the bottlenecks.
“We want to assure our Chinese friends that as far as Uganda is concerned, we are dealing with these bottlenecks and thank the Chinese Government for helping us deal with some of them,” he said.
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Zheng Zhu Qiang, said that cooperation between his country and Uganda is strong and has realized many achievements.
“Trade volume between China and Uganda in 2017 was US$ 800m,” he said adding that China is committed to supporting the development of African countries, including Uganda, in their development paths.
China is Uganda’s second-largest trading partner but with the latter’s exports standing at a mere $57.7m and imports at $886.2m.
However, there seems to be one beneficially, China.
State minister for Cooperatives, Fredrick Ngobi was recently quoted as saying this statistic must improve at the earliest possible time.
Uganda mainly imports electrical and mechanical appliances and their spare parts, clothes, nuclear reactors, among others from China. On the other hand, we export raw hides and skins, oil seeds, fruits and vegetables, coffee, tea and spices.
“We need a balanced trade, where we export and import at the same rate. The balance of trade will be possible by increasing our exports to Asian countries like China which provide a bigger market,” he added.
The Minister of State for Planning, Hon. David Bahati, said that the economic cooperation with China is growing stronger every day.
“This cooperation has supported public projects like Karuma, Isimba dam and airport expansion, among others. All these investments have helped Uganda lower the cost of doing business,” he said.
The Uganda Investment Authority in partnership with the China Chamber of Enterprises in Uganda are hosts of the Uganda-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum.
The Forum is an annual event through which investments from China are recognized for their contribution towards industrialization and the creation of employment opportunities for Ugandans.
This year, the forum’s theme is ‘China-Uganda join hands: Win-win Cooperation, Mutual Development’.
It is expected to lay a good foundation for Uganda’s participation in the upcoming Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit 2018 due in the Chinese Capital of Beijing.
The Forum is anticipated to give domestic investors an opportunity to partner with investors from China.