For local immigration officials in Uganda, the influx of Chinese investors to the country in recent years is fast becoming a cause for alarm.
While Chinese investments make up a huge chunk of the total foreign investments in the east African nation, Ugandan immigration officials have noted an increasing number of Chinese-Ugandan sham marriages, NTV reports.
The agency revealed during a parliamentary committee held late last year that Chinese men have been engaging in fake marriages with locals to obtain residency so they can pursue their business interests in the country.
Typically, an interview is conducted with the couples before they are granted spousal status. If determined to be a fake union, the Chinese men eventually get deported.
“But we have many who are marrying and even producing… Even our Ugandan women are accepting to [reproduce] with these men,” a representative from Uganda’s directorate of citizenship and immigration control was quoted as saying.
Chinese companies are behind the major infrastructure projects in the country. Among the recent Chinese creations include the Mandela National Stadium, a $1.7 billion hydropower dam, and major highways.
A number of firms from China have come to the country to take advantage of Ugandan’s high demand for low-cost goods, with many traders setting up shops to manufacture or sell Chinese goods.
The development have also caused frustration among Ugandans who compete in retail. In 2011, Ugandan shopkeepers organized a protest against rising prices, an unstable exchange rate, and a flood of competition by Chinese and Indian traders.
According to the Kampala City Traders Association, “aliens doing petty trade, especially the Chinese” are a source of concern. Estimates have placed the number of Chinese individuals in the country between 10,000 and 50,000.
Ugandan authorities have been conducting raids to catch foreigners living in the country illegally since last year.
According to Dr. David Dollar, a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy, Global Economy, and Development program at the John L. Thornton China Centre of the Brookings Institution, China’s involvement with Uganda has so far flooded the local markets with low-quality Chinese goods, AllAfrica reports.
He noted, however, that the economic growth of the nation and other African countries has increased with the growing Chinese presence.
“Please publish more data, manage labor flows (China severely limited the ability of foreign investors to bring in workers). To diversify the economy, improve the investment climate: infrastructure, ease of doing business, anti-corruption,” Dollar recommended to manage the situation.
He also warned against the consequences of Uganda’s extensive borrowings from China to develop infrastructure.
“The Uganda government must carry out strict supervision of infrastructure projects being constructed by the Chinese to benefit from those it is borrowing money for in order to realize the tangible impact,” he said.