26 April 2019

Uganda Third Biggest Employer of Chinese in East African Region

Kampala — Uganda employs more Chinese than all other East African countries apart from Kenya and Tanzania.

In the last nine years, the country has formally employed a total of 24,044 Chinese, mainly in the construction, transport, communication, ICT and energy sectors, among others.

The findings are contained in the China Statistical Yearbook, National Bureau of Statistics of China and the China Annual Bulletin of Statistics of Contracted Projects, among others.

The number of Chinese employed in Uganda, the data shows, have been rising, which signals the growing relationship between the two countries.

Kenya and Tanzania, which have a gross employment of 40,113 and 39,614 Chinese, respectively in the period beat Uganda in employing Chinese in East Africa.

Uganda comes in third, followed by Rwanda, which employed 8,301 in the period, while South Sudan employed 7,863 over the period.

Burundi employed only 3,589 in the period between 2009 and 2017, according to the data which was published by the China-Africa Research Initiative, under the John Hopkins University, in last month.

The data suggests increasing China's influence in the region and Africa at large, which has surged in the last two decades.

The growing influence has seen China's income from its operations in Africa increase with Uganda grossing more than $8.7b in the last 20 years.

Kenya, which employs the biggest number of Chinese in the region, registered the highest amount for annual revenues earned by Chinese companies grossing to about $20b in 20 years. Chinese companies in Tanzania earned $12.7b in annual gross revenue for the period between 2017 and 1997.

The country has also been advancing huge loans to East African member states with Kenya receiving the largest chunk of $9.8b in the period between 2000 and 2017.

Uganda received $2.9b while Tanzania received $2.3b in the same period.

Loans from China to Uganda have mostly acted as incentive to create employment for Chinese. The loans are partly conditioned to hiring Chinese companies that bring in some of its own employees.

High profile projects financed by China in Uganda including Karuma, Isimba dam and Kampala Entebbe Expressway among others, have been some of the gateways from Chinese employment in Uganda.

The projects, most of which started in 2013, could explain the increase in Chinese employees in Uganda since 2013.

Growing numbers

Uganda has since 2014 seen rapid growth in the entry of Chinese expatriates with increase of large scale projects funded by Chinese companies. In 2015, when Isimba dam commenced, the number of Chinese employees surged to 4,473. The number has since been increasing reaching 4,428 in 2016 and 4,686 in 2017.

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