The Nation’s Senior Diplomatic Writer, Aggrey Mutambo, sat down with China’s ambassador to Kenya for a wide-ranging interview that covered access to Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, next year’s FOCAC summit in Dakar, and how Beijing will deal with Nairobi’s difficulty in repaying its debts.
The following is an extract of their exchange regarding the pressing issue of Kenya’s inability to repay the estimated $6.2 billion of loans that it owes China for projects like the Standard Gauge Railway:
AGGREY MUTAMBO: “China is now one of the biggest financiers of infrastructure projects in Kenya. But it is also one of the biggest creditors to Kenya. Is Beijing worried about Kenya’s ability to repay the loans, given that these concerns have already attracted downgrades in sovereign credit ratings?”
AMBASSADOR ZHOU PINGJIANG: “As for the loans, China is Kenya’s leading bilateral lender at Sh750 billion. The loans attract an annual interest rate of about three percent. Twenty percent of Kenya’s total external debts are from china, roughly. Kenya’s internal debts attract an average yearly interest of 11 percent, according to a Daily Nation report dated December 3, compared to 4.2 percent for external debt. I should say that China, as a developing country, has tried its best to meet Kenya’s request.”
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