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Botswana says China agreed to extend loan, cancel debt

By Reuters | Published Mon, September 10th 2018 at 09:21, Updated September 10th 2018 at 09:28 GMT +3

China's President Xi Jinping (R) and President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi arrive for the welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 31 August 2018. [Photo: Roman Pilipey/Reuters]

China has agreed to extend a loan to Botswana for rail and road infrastructure as well as writing off some debt, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Saturday.

ALSO READ: Uhuru’s China trip secures Sh230b in loans and grants

Speaking at the airport on his return from this week’s China-Africa forum in Beijing, Masisi said Botswana had made a pitch to China and “I am happy to report that, judging from what President Xi Jinping told me, we were successful”.

In addition to the loan and a debt cancellation of 80 million pula, China has also offered a 340 million pula ($31 million) grant, he said.

“We got a little bit more than just the loan,” he told reporters.

He did not disclose the size of the loan, but last week the ministry of finance said Botswana was seeking a 12 billion pula ($1.09 billion) loan for transport infrastructure.

Botswana is the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value. Chinese companies, mostly state owned, are largely into construction in Botswana such as dams and roads.

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The bulk of the loan is expected to fund the Mosetse-Kazungula railway line project, which will link the central part of Botswana to the tourism hub in the northwest.

The railway line will also promote regional trade as it will connect Botswana to Zambia via the Kazungula Bridge, currently under construction.

China’s Xi offered another $60 billion in financing for Africa on Monday and wrote off some debt for poorer African nations, while warning against funds going towards “vanity projects”.

ALSO READ: China in Africa: A reason for dread or celebration?

Speaking at the opening of the forum, Xi said the financing would include $15 billion in aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a $20 billion credit line, a $10 billion special fund for China-Africa development, and a $5 billion special fund for imports from Africa.

 


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