China cancels 23 interest-free loans to 17 African countries


China, the largest bilateral lender in Africa, claims to have forgiven 23 interest-free loans that were due in 2021 that were owing by 17 African nations. In a meeting last week at a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the debt cancellations, according to a post on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

While it didn’t say how much the loans were worth or which countries owed the money, it did say that they will mature at the end of 2021.

An address to Chinese and African diplomats at a follow-up conference for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in Senegal in November, contained a similar declaration from the previous year.

China appeared to be concerned about Africa’s debt to it and the faltering Chinese economy by reducing its pledge to Africa at that summit by 33 percent.

Per reports, China canceled debt due to interest-free loans worth $113.8 million that matured in 2020 for 15 African countries including Botswana, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, the DRC, and Mozambique.

“China appreciates the firm commitment of African countries to the one-China principle and your strong support for China’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity,” Yi said.

The Foundiougne Bridge, which opened in Senegal this year, and the Nairobi Expressway in Kenya, as well as emergency food assistance to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea, are just a few examples of infrastructure and humanitarian investments funded by China that have been made in Africa. He also emphasized other political points of agreement between China and Africa.

Chinese financiers and African governments signed over 1,180 loan commitments worth $160 billion between 2000 and 2020, the China Africa Research Initiative’s (CARI) database shows, two-thirds being for transport, power, and mining projects.

Angola, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Cameroon have borrowed the most from China in dollar terms.

Yi pledged further Chinese investment in Africa including support for a ‘Great Green Wall’ against climate change, providing food assistance to 17 countries, and increasing Chinese imports from Africa. At the same time, he reinforced a core tenet of relations between both parties: “China will continue to support solving African issues in the African way. We oppose interference by outside forces in African countries’ internal affairs, and oppose stoking confrontation and conflict in Africa.”


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