Dr. Giuliano, who is also an Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut, observes that where China has lent extensively, it has gone ahead to attach some of their national assets in order to recover its invested money.
Uganda and international scholars have expressed concern about
Uganda’s current trend of getting aid from China.
They argue, in a new book, that Uganda’s push to source money from
China has amplified indebtedness but also put into question the country’s
ability to finance it.
While China's money has no strings attached to human rights and
democracy, it is not a benevolent act – it is usually Chinese firms that take
much of the government contracts.
The book titled; “Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal
Transformation” academicians unpacks
the self-celebratory narratives of progress, prosperity, and
modernization in the name of development as advanced by government officials
They indicate that while Uganda has in the last three decades been referred to
as one of the fastest growing economies on the continent, scholars and
researchers on ground say there is not much felt in terms of social and
They indicate for instance the growing inequality gaps between the
rich and the poor.
They argue for instance that while President Museveni was a donor darling in
his early years in office because of his commitment to the implementation of World
Bank policies, the 2006 elections undermined Uganda’s relationship with several
Consequently, many cut or suspended aid to Uganda. It is estimated that
about 177 billion shillings in aid was cut in 2006 by Britain, Ireland, The
Netherlands, Norway and Sweden all with explicit political reasoning due to
preliminary concerns about the political transition.
This, according to scholars, prompted the Ugandan government to shift its
allegiance to China. The Chinese have become a soft landing for
President Museveni’s quest for accelerated modernisation through large energy
and transport infrastructure projects.
Dr Giuliano Martiniello, one of the editors says Chinese money
currently constitute about 30 percent of the country’s debt.
Beijing has financed important projects in the country – from Karuma dam to
Isimba, Entebbe Expressway to the Sukulu phosphates plant in Tororo.
Chinese companies now have investments worth $4.2b (sh15.5
trillion) in Uganda. Key among the infrastructure projects has been the
construction of the 1.7 trillion Uganda shillings ($450 million) cost of the
Dr Giuliano, who is also an Assistant Professor at the American
University of Beirut, observes that where China has lent extensively, it has
gone ahead to attach some of their national assets in order to recover its
Some of the countries already facing the wrath of Chinese loans include Zambia,
whose national power company by China was handed over to China after it
defaulted loan repayment.
In 2017, Sri Lanka formally handed control of a strategic port on
its southern coast of Hambantota to China as part of a 99-year lease agreement.
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Prof John Jean Barya, a law don at Makerere University, says it is a good
contribution to the debate on the economic liberalization in Uganda,
privatization and the retrenchment of the state.
He says Uganda is mortgaging its national resources to China which
is makes the country highly vulnerable.
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Dr Daniel Lumonya, from the University of Cornell, says the book
provides an opportune moment for Ugandans to analyse the policies advanced by President
Museveni after taking power.