Hundreds of people on Saturday took part in a run in Uganda’s capital Kampala aimed at popularising China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China in 2013 proposed the BRI which refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa through the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.

Zheng Zhuqiang, Chinese Ambassador to Uganda flagged of the run, which has already been held in 22 countries and regions within the BRI area.

By May, the run would have taken place in 44 countries and regions.

“We are committed to contributing to the economic development of this country and we shall continue demonstrating this through channelling investments, supporting infrastructure and socio-economic developments,” Zheng said shortly before flag off.

He thanked Standard Chartered Bank, the organisers of the run, for facilitating and maintaining “a cordial and warm relationship with the Chinese community in Uganda.”

“You have facilitated trade between China and Uganda and supported Chinese businesses to grow and thrive in this country and for that we are grateful,” Zheng said.

Standard Chartered Bank selected eight staff athletes who are traversing the 44 countries, running 10km in each country they visit. The athletes were selected from Uganda, Hong Kong, China, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States and Britain.

Serena Leung, the athlete from Hong Kong, said she was happy to be part of the Belt and Road relay as she was meeting new and interesting people.

“I will be getting the precious time of meeting local communities for first-hand cultural exchanges,” she said.

Herman Kambugo from Uganda said, “Each market along the Belt and Road has its unique culture, people, terrain, weather conditions and challenges. I can’t wait to experience all of them.”

Henry Li from China said he was excited about running in Africa. “I know Africa is an important part of the BRI, and many Chinese companies have invested in the region,” he said.

Some of the BRI-related projects in Uganda include the just launched Chinese constructed Isimba Hydropower Plant, ongoing construction of Karuma Hydropower Plant, Kampala-Entebbe Expressway among others.