Kampala- Economists have urged government to prioritise investing in Information Communication Technology to support infrastructural developments.

The remarks were made at the first Uganda - China Economic Investment and Trade Cooperation Forum 2017 organised convened by the Chinese Enterprises Chamber of Commerce and the Uganda Investment Authority at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo last week.

Vice President Edward Ssekandi, who was chief guest at the forum, expressed confidence in the cooperation between the two states as a catalyst for Uganda’s economic growth.

He said: “The economic cooperation and increased Chinese investment initiatives in Uganda that lead to skills and technology transfer, fairer terms of trade, increased production capacity and the industrialisation will take Uganda into the desired middle income status.”

FDIs
China contributes the largest foreign direct investment to Uganda now standing at $3.07b. Government says this is what is likely to propel the country to the lofty heights of middle income status.

Vice President Ssekandi, who was chief guest at the forum, expressed confidence in the cooperation between the two states as a catalyst for Uganda’s economic growth.

He said: “The economic cooperation and increased Chinese investment initiatives in Uganda that lead to skills and technology transfer, fairer terms of trade, increased production capacity and the industrialisation will take Uganda into the desired middle income status.”

However, in spite of China’s magnanimity towards developing countries, observers raised the case for Uganda to adopt China’s model of quick implementation of government projects and initiatives to drive economic transformation.

Economist and researcher Dr Fred Muhumuza, said: “ Uganda has relied quite a lot more on the multilateral organisations for policy formulation and most of these multilateral to would clearly tell you the political space is not our domain.”

He added: “We all know development and politics move together. The advice you want to learn from the bilateral and countries such as China is how you blend development policy and the politics.”

ICT
Experts at the forum said that the ICT sector has the transformative power to drive economic growth because it goes beyond the movement of goods to enhancing the ease of doing business.

Mr Adam Lane, a member of the steering committee of the Internet for all initiative of the World Economic Forum pointed out the need for government to prioritise investment in ICT as crucial supplement to infrastructure development.

Oil and gas
China’s role in Uganda’s oil and gas sector cannot go unnoticed. The state owned Chinese national offshore cooperation has invested a colossal $2b as Uganda seeks to pump it’s first barrel of oil by 2020.

Mr Jimmy Mugerwa, the general manager Tullow Oil, highlighted opportunities for Ugandan businesses in the oil and gas sector.

He said: “We have got infrastructure projects going on. We need 800 kilometres of road, and we have got 12 million tonnes of materials which we need to import.”

Also in attendance was the former Chinese ambassador to South Africa H.E Lui Guijin who said: “We have money. We have technology. African countries lack infrastructure, shortage of funds and inadequate professionals and skills.”

Ms Evelyn Anite, the minister of State for Investment admitted that corruption is hindering government efforts.

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