By Riches Soberekon
Kenyan President William Ruto is set to make a significant request during his upcoming trip to Beijing.
According to Deputy Rigathi Gachahua, President Ruto will seek a $1 billion loan from China to complete stalled road projects in the country.
Additionally, he will request a longer repayment period for the existing debt owed to China.
This marks a notable shift in President Ruto’s stance, as his coalition had previously criticized his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s extensive borrowing from China.
Currently, Kenya owes over $8 billion in Chinese loans, which were primarily used by Kenyatta to finance infrastructure projects like the Nairobi expressway.
However, many of these projects have encountered setbacks as contractors have abandoned them due to unpaid bills.
Gachahua emphasized that with the requested $1 billion, the government aims to settle outstanding payments to contractors and ensure the completion of these crucial road projects.
During his visit, President Ruto will also discuss the possibility of extending the repayment period for Kenya’s debts.
This move comes as a response to the financial strain faced by the Kenyan government, which is currently allocating approximately half of its revenue to debt repayment.
The surge in Chinese loans, followed by a slowdown in Chinese lending from 2019, has raised concerns among critics, leading to increased debt burdens and repayment obligations for countries like Kenya.
It is important to note that Kenya was among the countries targeted by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development project launched in 2013. This initiative aimed to expand China’s economic and geopolitical influence.
However, the substantial loans provided by China, coupled with the subsequent repayment obligations, have sparked criticism and strained the financial resources of recipient countries.
The Kenyan government is grappling with the challenge of managing its debts, compounded by foreign debt repayments and the depreciation of the Kenyan currency.
As a result, the cabinet has instructed all ministries to carefully evaluate their spending and prioritize essential expenditures.
President Ruto’s upcoming discussions with Chinese officials will shed light on the potential for financial relief and the future of Kenya’s infrastructure projects.