Kenya’s President Praises Economic Performance Despite Heavy China Debt

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Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, praised the country’s economic performance throughout the pandemic in a recent speech address to Parliament.

“Today I am happy to go on record in this august house as having succeeded in the choices that our administration made. Because of our fiscal stimuli, today I can report that the impact of Covid on our economy was 14 times less than that of the global economy”, said Kenyatta per Africa News.

“During the second quarter of 2021 real GDP recorded a phenomenal 10.1 percent growth and this is the highest growth ever recorded in one quarter in Kenya’s history”, he added.

The announcement comes notwithstanding the country’s lingering debt with China.

In July, Kenya resumed servicing loans owed to China after Beijing’s six-month debt-repayment suspension expired in June.

According to Bloomberg, the government commenced 2021-22 payments to the Export-Import Bank of China with an initial payment of 82.7 billion shillings ($761 million), according to Kenya’s Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o.

Kenya accrued the debt after accepting loans to build a railroad between Kenya’s capital, Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.

China accounts for about one-third of Kenya’s 2021-22 external debt service costs, is the nation’s most significant foreign creditor after the World Bank.

According to budget documents, of its Kenya 117.7 billion shillings Chinese debt, about 24.7 billion shillings are in interest payments and almost 93 billion shillings in redemptions.

China has been offering loans to many African countries over recent years, but the cost may be worth more than many African leaders predicted.

Last week, Uganda was forced to hand over control over the country’s only international airport to China. In 2015, the Uganda government signed an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) to borrow $207 million at a 2% interest rate. The loan included a maturity period of 20 years and a seven-year grace period.

Uganda is now fighting to have at least 13 clauses in the contract to be amended, alleging they are “unfair and erode the sovereignty of Uganda.”

China has been reluctant to renegotiate the terms.

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