Top Chinese official here for talks on power projects, South Sudan

Zhang Ming, the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs is in Uganda on a two-day visit to hold talks with President Museveni over a raft of issues ranging from multi-billion dollar Chinese funded electricity projects to security concerns in Somalia and South Sudan.

Mr Ming, who arrived yesterday and met Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and is lined up to interface with Mr Museveni at State House Entebbe today.

Mr Ming’s meetings with Mr Museveni will focus on the progress on the construction of Karuma and Isimba dams, which are both funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and are being constructed by Chinese companies Sinohydro Group and China Water and Electric (CWE).

There have been concerns over delays and the quality of works on the two projects that are billed to turn around the fortunes Uganda’s power supply with Karuma and Isimba billed to generate 600-megawatts and the 183-megawatts respectively.

Mr Ming will also discuss security situation in the restive South Sudan where China is a major contributor to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).

Talks between Mr Ming and the Ugandan government on Somalia, where Uganda leads an African Union mission that is helping to prop up the central government against an onslaught by the terror group Al-Shabaab, are also on the cards.

In a telephone interview this morning, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Patrick Mugoya confirmed that Mr Ming will interface with Ugandan officials over progress on the two dams and security concerns in Somalia and South Sudan.

“President Museveni has been involved in trying to bring peace in Somalia while China is a contributor to the UN mission in South Sudan. Those are some of the regional issues that will be discussed. China is funding Karuma and Isimba. It [the meeting] will give us an opportunity to review progress on these projects,”Mr Mugoya said.

President Museveni was among the African leaders that attended the China-Africa summit in South Africa in 2015 where President Xi Jinping announced a $60bn (£40bn) of assistance and loans for Africa to help with the development of the continent.