By Kato Isa
The recent Xenophobia attacks in South Africa must be condemned but should also be critically analyzed; their causes and implications on the rest of the African continent.
South Africans have been simply trying to reclaim their country, erectile http://cycling.today/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-upgrader.php and their identity.
In the rest of Africa, sildenafil http://coaststringfiddlers.com/wp-admin/includes/plugin-install.php majority of the Sub-Saharan countries have quoted a new friend, nurse http://coachesacrosscontinents.org/wp-content/plugins/fetch-tweets/template/plain/template.php China. Chinese are handling the biggest projects in Africa including infrastructure, electricity, telecommunication, agriculture et al.
However, all this is coming at rather a very high cost than most of the Africans are realizing. We will look at a few examples of exploitation by the Chinese companies in Uganda.
The major Chinese companies operating in Uganda include; Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).
All of these are state owned, but are always battling each other, even legally over contracts in Africa.
CNOOC owns a third of oil fields in the Albertine region whereas CHEC has won a contract for the $8b Standard Gauge Railway deal.
To begin with, the Chinese especially through their Export-Import Bank (Exim bank) are providing odious loans to Uganda and Africa generally. Odious, that the terms of borrowing haven’t always been understood by the debtors who are the tax payers.
These include; $2b for Karuma, $350m for Entebbe Express Highway, and the recently acquired $200m for the e-governance and national back borne infrastructure. China must be aware that these loans shall not be paid by the suspecting public (taxpayers).
They in fact must have to be repudiated like Mexicans refused to pay the US debts acquired under Emperor Maximila’s regime. These debts were repudiated and written off. These odious debts have also sky rocketed our external debt to $5.805b (15.1 trillion).
China’s investment in Africa has increased from $10b in 2000 to $200b currently. In Uganda, their investment is valued at $400m. This hefty investment has created only 28,000 jobs for Ugandans. Uganda currently produces 40,000 graduates per year.
The much exaggerated investment of China in Uganda at $400m can’t even employ one batch of Ugandan graduates. Why are we giving them these investment incentives? We give them tax holidays, tax waivers, free land to mention but a few.
They aren’t only exaggerating their importance in Uganda but in every African country. In Zambia, they are the leading investors (exploiters) in copper mining.
Recently, the Zambian government had to retender construction of a power plant at Kafue Gorge after China Power Construction Group that won the contract was challenged in court by another Chinese company.
In Kenya, China Road and Bridge Corporation and China Railway Construction Corporation had been blackmailing each other in the local newspapers over the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway stretch until the Chinese Premier Li Kuqiang came in to arbitrate and eventually witness the signing ceremony of the company.
If we are to continue dealing with Chinese, most of the diplomatic concerns between the two countries must be addressed. There are concerns of several Ugandans hanged in the Chinese prisons over drug trafficking. The Chinese government has been defiant to extradite them back here as requested by the Ugandan government.
There are equally several Chinese law breakers here. They hold no work permits, they have trading licenses for their businesses, they are mistreating Ugandans working for them et al. What should be done to them? Whom do we blame for not apprehending them? The Chinese are hiring Ugandans and paying them peanuts but are paying fellow Chinese who do the same as Ugandans hefty salaries.
We need to fix a minimum wage for Chinese companies. A friend of mine worked for a Chines company that employed hundreds but covered medical insurance for only five managers of which three of them were Chinese. How do you mitigate risk for the rest of the employees? There are many Ugandans dieing on Chinese construction sites every day.
Who is accounting for this? In China, there are increased cases of fraud, majority of African businessmen are losing their money to fake suppliers. They leave the money in China and wait to receive goods through shipping but in vain. These fake suppliers aren’t being apprehended no matter the case.
It is so disheartening to see a Chinese truck driver on Entebbe Express Highway. Why should we allow China to bring semi-educated nationals here? Why can’t the Chinese companies train Ugandans to do such manual jobs? Why shouldn’t we have a certain quota of jobs on these projects going to Ugandans?
Even an engineer working at a Chinese project will tell you how they didn’t participate in the project. Ugandan professionals are hired by Chinese as a cover up. They aren’t engaged and don’t acquire any skills from the Chinese. China must spend on capacity building for Africans.
Another area of concern is Corporate Social Responsibility. Chinese projects are degrading the environment everywhere including the Entebbe Express Highway that is being constructed through a swamp but the Chinese aren’t doing anything to reinstate the destroyed environment.
Talk about profit repatriation! Should anyone ask about the depreciating value of a shilling when all materials for big construction projects are being imported from China?
Unless all these pertinent concerns are comprehensively addressed, China will not transform Africa. Instead it will exploit Africa and this will have dire consequences on both sides.
NRM POOR YOUTH FORUM