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African countries with huge debts from China

Most African countries are seeking financing from the East and in particular China. China and many African nations have had a long history of solid political and economic ties. With this partnership, China has financed more than 3,500 critical infrastructure projects. African countries have taken in more than $89 billion (Sh9.1 trillion) in loans since 2000 and the debt is still rising. Below is a list of countries with the highest Chinese debts according to The African Exponent

1. Angola

According to China Development Bank Angola owes China an estimated Sh4.23 trillion. A chunk of the amount went into heavy infrastructural support projects especially on energy and transportation.

The Southern African country believes the investments are of mutual benefit to both countries with key suggestions being on technology sharing and scientific knowledge.

In 2017, Angola signed a deal with China for the construction of the Caculo Cabaca Hydropower project in Dondo, Angola. The seven-year project is worth Sh812.4 billion and will produce 2,172 megawatts of electricity.

2. Ethiopia

It is estimated that landlocked Ethiopia has a standing debt of Sh1.37 trillion to China. Despite a heavy debt load that the large East African economy has accumulated over the years, which is 59 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product, it recently got a reprieve when the Chinese government extended its repayment period by a further 20 years.

Most of the money went to funding infrastructural projects like the 750-kilometre standard gauge railway (SGR) linking Ethiopia and Djibouti said to be in the region of $4 billion (Sh410.8 billion).

3. Kenya

Kenya owes the Chinese government a staggering Sh980 billion, utilised on road and railway development across the country. The biggest projects are the SGR which covers the 400km stretch of Nairobi-Mombasa and the Thika Super highway at a cumulative cost of Sh36 billion.

The SGR project, which cost Sh320 billion for phase one alone, is said to cumulatively cost Sh800 billion when it finally gets to Western Kenya for Phase two. China now controls 66 per cent of Kenya’s bilateral debt.

4. Congo Brazzaville

According to statistics, the Republic of Congo is the fourth highest indebted country in the continent to China with a debt of Sh742 billion. A huge chunk of the debt have been earmarked for infrastructural projects.

China will be investing in the Republic of Congo’s Special Economic Zone which will be built in Pointe Noire in what China calls a “direct investment” and not a loan or gift. Corruption has been dubbed as one of the challenges that have made it difficult for the loans impact to be realised.

5. South Sudan

The youngest African nation, which is trying to put its house in order following years of civil strife, has a debt to the tune of Sh649 billion. However, most of these loans have been written off due to instability.

Sudan is rich in oil deposits so most of the debt was used in putting up infrastructure in the form of pipelines and road networks. In January this year, the two Governments inked a Sh25 billion loan agreement earmarked for the establishment of an Air Traffic Management system in South Sudan.

6. Zambia

Zambia is increasingly getting mired in the tentacles of Chinese debt. The country has an estimated $6 billion (Sh637 billion) debt. China is reportedly taking ownership of Zambian firms, such as the national power utility firm Zesco and the national broadcaster ZNBC, as part of repayment plans.

Government sources have refuted those claims arguing that they were based on untruths. China is responsible for a number of projects in Zambia including the $500 million (Sh50 billion) China National Building Material.

7. Cameroon

It is estimated that Cameroon has a standing debt of Sh556 billion to the Chinese government. However, part of it will be reportedly cancelled following growing relations between the two countries. The west African country has been borrowing to improve their infrastructure particularly in urban settings like Yaoundé and Douala.

Cameroon is witnessing significant progress in its electricity and transport infrastructure development in the last few years, but for lack of financial and technical knowhow, the impetus is coming from China.

8. Nigeria

The continent’s most populated country is demand-driven and, therefore, it is hardly surprising that it makes the list. However the arrangement is slightly different because the two countries are more inclined to Foreign Direct Investment.

The partnership through the Focac platform, has resulted in the construction of the first urban rail system in West Africa valued at $500 million (Sh51.4 billion) project in Abuja. The Nigerian Government has borrowed in excess of Sh483 billion to run its programmes.

9. Ghana

Ghana’s Sh349 billion debt has irked the opposition who have raised the issue with the International Monetary Fund to help address it urgently.In 2007, China agreed to write off $25 million (Sh2.6 billion) of Ghana’s debt, accumulated since 1985.

In 2007, the Chinese government provided Ghana with an aid package for the construction of the Bui Hydro-Electric Power Dam consisting of $270 million (Sh27.7 billion) in concessional loans and a $332 million (Sh34.1 billion) buyer credit facility from the China Eximbank reportedly at a semi-commercial rate.

10. DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo has amassed Sh343 billion in commercial debt owed to China. DRC was quick to exchange mineral resources for loans with China.

The Chinese have interest in telecommunications, defence and mining majorly in areas like Goma, Kivu and Katanga. Chinese Government has over the years invested on giant projects with huge returns in what they term as win-win arrangements with the DRC government.

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