Young Ugandans applaud Xi's CIIE speech
KAMPALA, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Young Ugandans see opportunities for their own country and themselves after Chinese President Xi Jinping's announcements of further opening-up and inclusion of science and technology in economic development at the second China International Import Expo(CIIE) on Tuesday in Shanghai.
China is offering opportunities for the world by pledging to open up its economy wider to the outside world and relaxing market access for foreign companies, said Hilda Ayebare, a Chinese and English language teacher at a local school in central Uganda.
"China has opened up its doors to the world. This is like opening up your heart to the outside. That means you are ready to help and work with the outside world irrespective of their economic status," she said in an interview with Xinhua.
"The way the president is trying to reach out to the rest of the world so that the world can know more about China and China can know more about the world. That means other countries will freely do business with China. This will not only benefit China but other countries as well," she added.
Ayebare noted that countries like Uganda are optimistic that they will benefit from the win-win global economic system, to which China has contributed a lot.
Andrew Kamagara, a civil engineer for the Karuma Hydropower Project, Uganda's largest power plant scheduled to open soon, told Xinhua that the incorporation of science and technology into economic development highlighted by President Xi is critical.
Kamagara said China is already sharing its advanced technology in transport and energy infrastructure development in Africa and African countries like Uganda are reaping benefits in such areas as they strive to accelerate their economic growth.
The roads built with the help of Chinese technology "will last for tens of years compared with the roads previously constructed by other companies from different countries," he said.
"We are working with the Chinese to build a dam in Uganda ... the technology they are using is quite complex. But slowly we are learning from them and in the future we will be able to construct our own dams," Kamagara said.
"In doing so, we will develop the country's economy as the cost of doing business will go down, especially for the manufacturers," he added.
China is financing the construction of the 600-megawatt Karuma Hydropower Plant.
Duncan Abigaba, deputy head of the Government Citizen Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT), told Xinhua that Uganda is prioritizing science and technology as a driver of economic development.
Abigaba said the government identifies, trains and supports homegrown innovators and innovations, and also establishes global partnerships with leaders in science and technology, including those from China.
He said the Fourth Industrial Revolution National Taskforce will soon come up with a national strategy of using artificial intelligence and other technologies to boost economic development.
John Nasasira, head of the task force, which is charged with advising the government on emerging technologies, has told Xinhua that China continues to play a critical role in providing technical and financial support in the development of Uganda's ICT sector.
Nasasira said that connectivity across the country is important to using the ICT as an enabler of economic development.
China financed the building of Uganda's National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and Electronic Government Infrastructure. The project, implemented by China's Huawei Technologies, involves laying fiber optic cables across the country. It is part of an East Africa-wide terrestrial fiber optic cable, which will cover a distance of 15,600 km when completed.
Chinese telecommunication companies such as ZTE have also helped local telecommunication companies to provide a better service.
According to Uganda's Ministry of Finance, as a result of these ICT advances, the number of internet users increased by 45 percent to 18.8 million in 2017 from 13 million in 2015.
Active telephone subscribers now total 22.4 million and the number of mobile money users jumped to 23 million in 2017 from 2.8 million in 2011.