lørdag 26. januar 2019

The Chinese Railways Remolding East Africa

Just a year ago, Ethiopia and Kenya were mired in political crises on the brink of potential civil war from inter-tribal conflict. Since then, major changes have taken place in Ethiopia under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has enacted numerous reforms and brokered a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea.

After a highly disputed election, Uhuru Kenyatta is once again the president of Kenya. As two of the largest economies on the continent, the two East African powerhouses are at the center of China’s largest transport infrastructure investments on the continent.

Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing has financed more than 3,000 strategic infrastructure projects in Africa and provided tens of billions of dollars more in the form of loans. A decade ago, China surpassed the United States to become Africa’s largest trading partner. Ethiopia and Kenya account for a substantial portion of Chinese lending in Africa, along with Djibouti; their debt obligations to China are high and growing.

China is now Kenya’s largest bilateral debt lender and Kenya’s debt to China has increased tenfold in just five years. China has invested approximately $14 billion in Djibouti, much to do with its geostrategic location and hosting of China’s first overseas military base.