President Museveni has assured the country and the international community that the country’s only international airport is safe from Chinese money lenders.
The president made the assurance during an interview with Reuters where he flatly denied using the airport as collateral.
“I don’t remember mortgaging the airport for anything,” Museveni said, adding Kampala would pay what it owed to China. “There is no problem, they will be paid.”
The President was making a response to fake news carried by a local daily and picked by the international media outlets that the country had surrendered the airport to Exim bank a Chinese bank over loan repay.
On the strong presence of Chinese companies in major projects in the country, the president explained that Chinese investment in Uganda is growing while Westerners are losing appetite to put money to work in the country.
Museveni added that Uganda was working to sign a number of deals with Chinese private sector lenders in sectors such as agro- and fertilizer-processing, minerals processing and textiles.
“The Western companies have lost their spectacles; they no longer have the eyes to see opportunities. But the Chinese see opportunities, and they come, and they are knocking, they are coming very vigorously,” Museveni told Reuters. “But (Western companies) are saturated with wealth. They are not bothered.”
Chinese state entities and private-sector firms have long been a driving force of investment in Africa, lending countries on the continent hundreds of billions of dollars as part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
According to the Uganda Investment Authority, the country ranked third in Africa on foreign direct investment (FDI) from China in recent years.
FAITH AGAINST CORRUPTION
Talking about the fight against corruption, Museveni acknowledged more effort was needed.
“We are still fighting. I wouldn’t boast that we have improved – initially, we weren’t concentrating much on corruption,” the 77-year-old said, adding the battle against graft was one of his main priorities for his current and sixth term as president.
His administration was focusing on recruiting from faith groups, of which the country had plenty, to have enough manpower to fight that war on corruption and would provide an assessment of progress on the issue in two years’, he said.
“That is our struggle: to get clean people to implement – otherwise the laws are there, the institutions are there,” Museveni said.
Speaking about the Nov. 16 bombings in Kampala, which killed three people and were blamed on the Islamic State-aligned Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Museveni said that there was evidence of coordination from abroad with the men who carried out the attack.
The blasts in the heart of the capital shocked a nation known as a bulwark against violent Islamist militants in East Africa and prompted Museveni to send 1,700 troops into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, where the ADF has training camps. But Museveni said foreign links stretched beyond eastern Congo.
“The bombs which they exploded in Kampala recently, we have some indication that they were coordinating with groups in Kenya and in Somalia,” Museveni said. “Maybe not command and control but collaboration.”
Uganda said on Friday that its troops sent this week into eastern Democratic Republic of Congo would stay as long as needed to defeat Islamist militants.