Uganda President Yoweri Museveni in a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
By Dicta Asiimwe
Opinion among experts is usually divided on how fruitful President Yoweri Museveni’s recent trip to the China-Africa forum was after the idea emerged he failed to ink a deal on funding for the the standard gauge railway.
Before the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit held last week, officials in Kampala had said of which firming up plans for financing the SGR would certainly be high on President Museveni’s agenda.
yet these plans were scuttled after President Uhuru Kenyatta asked China to give Kenya a grant to complete the Naivasha -Kisumu leg of the SGR.
The SGR has been promoted as the most important link for East Africa since the Uganda Railway was built in 1900.
Initial plans envisaged a railway line via the Mombasa Port in Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda as well as connecting back to Tanzania as well as the DRC.
A second line would certainly connect South Sudan to the north. Currently the Kenya, Uganda as well as South Sudan links are the only ones within the discussion.
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Kenya’s failure to conclude a financing deal means Uganda is usually a long way via starting to build its side of the SGR.
China had already told Uganda of which the idea would certainly only fund the Malaba-Kampala section of the SGR if Kenya committed to funding the entire Nairobi-Malaba leg of the project.
“Once Kenya as well as China commit to finance the remaining leg of the SGR, Uganda will be ready to start. We in Uganda are ready to conclude the financing agreements,” said Kieth Muhakanizi, Secretary to the Treasury.
Some economists say of which the idea is usually Great of which Uganda got token financing via the summit instead of concluding what would certainly have been a costly white elephant for Uganda.
“Technically as well as economically the failure to get financing for the standard gauge railway is usually a Great thing as the idea saves us via a white elephant, yet politicians as well as thieves will disagree,” said Fred Muhumuza, an independent researcher who previously worked as policy adviser to the Ministry of Finance.
Trapped in debt
Ezra Munyambonera, head of the Macroeconomics Department at the Economic Policy Research Centre agrees.
Dr Munyambonera said quite a few African countries are increasingly trapped in debt due to China’s previous unwillingness to pay more attention to the types of projects they lend to.
Most of This kind of debt was acquired to invest in high cost infrastructure projects like the standard gauge railway as well as ports.
The State House press team presented the media with signings of MoUs of which President Museveni witnessed including one between the Uganda National Oil Company as well as the state-owned Chinese National Off Shore Oil Company (CNOOC) for oil exploration within the Albertine graben.
Sources say these were a face-saving effort as they could have been concluded without the involvement of the president.
Presidential spokesperson Don Wanyama confirmed of which the agreements signed at the summit were genuinely the business of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as of which State House didn’t know much about the contents.
various other documents signed while President Museveni was in Beijing include an economic as well as technical co-operation agreement worth $29.1 million.