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Uganda is embracing more and more Chinese investments, especially in industry, agricultural processing and tourism infrastructure, said Madibo Charles Wagidoso, ambassador of Uganda to China during a recent exclusive interview with China Daily.
Uganda, strategically located in the heart of East Africa, established bilateral relations with China when it first declared independence in 1962.
"We are really grateful that China supported Uganda during the struggle for independence, and supported Uganda politically and economically," Wagidoso said.
"There has been a lot of economic engagement between the two countries, especially in the areas of trade and investment," said the ambassador.
China is the biggest source of foreign investment in Uganda. And the bilateral trade volume has increased substantially to more than $400 million in 2011. "It's continuously growing," he added.
Currently the China Petrochemical Corporation is one of the biggest companies involved in Uganda's oil industry, the ambassador said.
The country is also looking forward to China's investment and technology transfers in hydropower generation, he said.
The ambassador said Uganda is largely an agricultural country. About 8 percent of its people earn their income directly from the land.
The country provides easy access to a combined market of 200 million people in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and to some extent, Central Africa.
"Chinese investors can take great advantage of the market potential if they invest in Uganda," said Wagidoso.
Uganda is also one of the best tourist destinations in the world, the ambassador said.
Throughout Uganda, there are natural parks where visitors can see wild animals. It also has many scenic spots, including mountains, waterfalls and lakes. Lake Victoria in Uganda is the biggest freshwater lake in Africa.
Wagidoso said that when Premier Wen Jiabao visited Uganda in 2006, he praised its beauty, saying that Uganda is the most beautiful African country he had ever visited.
But the country's infrastructure requires investment to make full use of these tourism resources, he noted.
In addition to its lucrative markets and beautiful landscape, Uganda's local government has provided incentives to attract Chinese entrepreneurs.
Machinery and equipment for certain types of businesses can be exempt from taxation for up to 10 years.
The free financial sector allows investors to bring in and take out money without limitations, and also to get relevant licenses and permits very easily.
Government authorities will help investors complete paperwork processing quickly and streamline administrative procedures to help set up businesses in Uganda.
In addition, stable social status is the key to any investment, Wagidoso said. He said Uganda is one of the few countries in Africa that has enjoyed economic stability for more than 20 years.
"I think I would say that Chinese and Ugandan social cultures are related, " said the ambassador.
"They are similar because Chinese people are very social, and welcoming to foreign guests. That is the same situation in Uganda," he said. "Uganda people are very hospitable and very happy with Chinese people. They are very social, too."
Referring to the first ambassadors forum on economic and trade, which was held in early July in Beijing, Wagidoso said it is an innovative idea to bring in ambassadors together to share ideas with each other.
(China Daily 07/06/2012 page10)