President Yoweri Museveni has criticised the World Bank for telling Uganda that countries that “build railways use their own money.”
He said that such a statement from an institution that purports to support Africa’s transformation through private-sector led growth shows that some actors at the institution “are not serious.”
Mr Museveni, who is in China for a four-day visit, told a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday that Uganda Railways tried to get money to fund railway construction from the World Bank but failed.
The World Bank, a global multilateral lender has supported various projects like schools and roads in Uganda.
“One of our engineers recently told me that the Uganda Railways tried in vain to get support from the World Bank until one [World Bank] official told them that countries that build railways do so with their own money,” Mr Museveni said. “How will the private-sector grow if it is bedeviled with expensive transport costs, expensive electricity costs or no electricity at all, expensive cost of money, etc.? It is against that negativity, that China’s solidarity should be measured.”
Uganda has for the last decade sought loans to fund multi-million dollar projects from Beijing.
Mr Museveni’s speech was at the coordinators' meeting on the implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
This is a follow up on the pledges made by China’s President Xi Jinping to African presidents last September. China pledged, among other things, to offer Africa $60 billion in support.
Mr Museveni praised China and Russia for the role they played in the independence struggles of African Countries.
“As we gather here, therefore, we cannot forget to salute the Communist Parties of China, the USSR, Cuba and the other socialist countries that constituted the third factor in our emancipation,” he said. “Besides their role in supporting our African liberation cause, I also thank the Chinese government, especially under President Jinping, for supporting Africa's development. In Uganda, China has helped us build two dams and set up industrial parks.”
Uganda seeks to construct the Standard Gauge Railway from Busia border to Kampala – the first leg of the line.
However, the government hopes that China can provide money for the project.
On the other hand, Beijing is reluctant to commit money because it wants assurance from Kenya that its railway line will stop at the Busia border to make business sense.
Uganda needs up to USD 3.2 billion for the SGR to Kampala.
As part of the visit, President Museveni is expected to preside over the opening of the first ever China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, which will be held in Hunan Province.
The expo actualizes one of the resolutions arrived at last year in Beijing and is seen as "a new mechanism for commercial cooperation with Africa, a new platform to deliver the trade and economic measures of FOCAC, and a new window for sub-national business cooperation with Africa."
Several Ugandan manufacturers will have their products on display at the Expo which will also be characterised by seminars, presentations and business match-making.