By Ndamaje Francis
Confucius who is considered one of great Chinese philosophers noted: “Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.” In context of State-State relations, China being the world’s second-largest economy, makes it beneficial to Uganda.
These two countries have had a long diplomatic history that dates back in 1962. Since then, Uganda has witnessed a slow but steady economic development in different sectors like education, health care, industrialization, trade and many others.
As Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” Uganda’s economy has slowly grown from time to time because China did not stop building, nurturing, helping and supporting us, thanks to good relations between the two.
Aware that education is the developmental foundation of any nation, Chinese government has been supporting Uganda in this field. For example, the Chinese government donated a constructed modern secondary school in one of Uganda’s remote areas of Kawanda in Sembabule district.
Also, the Chinese government has been offering scholarship opportunities to Ugandan scholars on different levels. Aware that human capital development is key in building a nation, it becomes a fact that China has contributed to growth and development of Uganda.
In other sectors such as; trade, investment and industrialization, Uganda has immensely benefited from Chinese investments and trade helping the country as it aims at eradicating poverty and reaching middle income status.
Indeed, for the last one decade, China is among Uganda’s top two sources of Foreign Direct Investments and Chinese firms have heavily invested in the country setting up projects and industrial parks such as Mbale and Kapeeka industrial parks which in turn are employing thousands of Ugandans.
As a result of such investments, Uganda is now becoming a regional exporter of goods such as tiles.
In the health sector, China has also been closely working with Uganda helping the country to build a resilient and a functioning health system.
The Chinese have a saying that “Your health is an investment not an expense.” In 2012, the Chinese government gifted Uganda a modern general hospital The China-Uganda friendship hospital Naguru, which provides relatively cheap medical services to all patients.
This was meant to help decongest Mulago National Referral hospital. Furthermore, China still donated medical supplies and experts to the hospital.
The Chinese medical team has provided free trainings to Ugandan medical specialists, junior doctors & nurses with new medical technologies like Laparoscopy.
As it’s said, “Hard times will always reveal true friends“, this current Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that China is indeed more than a friend. It will be remembered that, when this pandemic had just broken out in Uganda, a Chinese medical aid team set off from Kunming City in Yunnan province to come and provide medical services for residents and also train medical personnels in designated local hospitals, all in a bid to fight against Covid-19.
China has donated assorted medicines, surgical masks, gloves, PPE, among others that has been received by the Ministry of Health.
The Chinese embassy in Uganda, donated 70 motor vehicles to the ministry of health to facilitate it’s works. The Chinese medical experts also shared their response approach towards Covid-19 with their Ugandan counterparts.
Dr. Francis Ndamaje is board chairman Isimba Community Hub