By Mike Ssegawa
On Tuesday afternoon, President Museveni bid one of the most active ambassadors who have served Uganda in the recent past.
Mr Museveni saw off outgoing Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Yali, at State House, Entebbe. He has served in Uganda for the past five years.
During his term, Zhao has been a proactive diplomat driving Chinese business interests, which have been largely beneficial to the two countries. No wonder, Zhao has found the door to State House always open whenever he wanted audience with the Ugandan leader.
No wonder, Zhao is being seen off in grand style, including, even the defence ministry which has lauded the defence relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Uganda.
Not long ago, Mr Adolf Mwesigye, the defence minister hosted Zhao for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Nanjing along Lugogo Bypass in Kampala. The dinner was graced by top honchos of the ministry of defence including the minister of state for Veteran Affairs, Hon. Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, Rosette Byengoma, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala and other chiefs of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces[UPDF].
The minister presented a souvenir to Zhao for the outstanding contribution towards building a strong relation between the two countries’ militaries.
Zhao even became emotional that he admitted he would Uganda. He was such a darling in the corridors of power.
Zhao Yali was posted to Uganda in 2011. He has been described by many as an extra ordinary delegate who lived up to the expectations of the 21st century ambassador.
China has been supporting the UPDF in the fields like training, equipment’s and many other fields. Vice president Edward Ssekandi says, Zhao “is a result-oriented diplomat with a human touch. During his time he stepped up Uganda-China friendship from friendship of small f to Friendship of capital F.”
As for diplomatic community, Zhao will be greatly missed. Foreign affairs state minister Okello-Oryem says has seen about six ambassadors to Uganda and “Zhao has been the most outstanding ambassador in our relationship with China.”
Zhao has seen Chinese companies such as Huawei and China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) grow in influence in the country as well as other companies that have joined in the areas of energy and technology.
Between January 2012 and June 2016, Chinese companies have invested in 253 projects in Uganda and created 45, 000 job opportunities, on top of foreign direct investments originating from China also increased to US$ 667,877,876m.
Zhao’s term has seen over than 400 Chinese companies operate in Uganda, participating in different sectors ranging from agriculture, construction, oil and gas, minerals to telecommunications.