As the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting neighboring Kenya, Chinese companies in Uganda have also stepped up their charm offensive. A delegation of the China Communications Construction Group paid a courtesy call to President Museveni to brief him on progress made with the construction of the new Kampala to Entebbe Highway, which according to information given to the media will be ready as planned by mid to late 2016.
The new highway will also construct one branch off near Kajjansi to link Uganda’s prime convention and conference facilities at Munyonyo with Entebbe, which on completion will reduce the journey to and from the airport to about half an hour for the 50 kilometers, compared to as many as two hours, due to traffic congestion, at present.
The company also expressed their desire, now that progress on the ground is visible along the route of the new highway, to be engaged in the construction of the new multilane highway from Kampala to Jinja, where a new bridge across the Nile is also being constructed courtesy of the Japanese government.
President Museveni also met the chairman of the Chinese Export-Import Bank, all part of a coordinated wave of visits by top Chinese business leaders who have come with their Premier to East Africa and spread into the region to cement their growing influence and importance vis-a-vis construction and project financing.
Yesterday, major financing agreements and deals were signed in Nairobi between the Kenyan and Chinese governments which involves the building of the new standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi and then on to the Ugandan border, to Kampala, and eventually to Kigali in Rwanda, where Chinese companies were chosen in Kenya to build the rail line from Mombasa to Tororo, while in Uganda, contractual issues remain unsolved at this stage as to which company will actually build the Ugandan portion of the new line.
The presidents of the East African Community members Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania are in fact expected in Nairobi today to meet with the Chinese Premier to discuss cooperation and projects of their own, which in the case of Uganda involves the construction of the new hydroelectric power plant at Karuma as well as a number of other projects in the road and energy sector.