Does Kenya risk losing port to China?
China's debt stock is almost certain to increase further this year as construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) enters its second phase, with Kenya said to have borrowed a further Sh165 billion for the extension of the railway line from Nairobi to Naivasha. Kenya, which spent over Sh440 billion on SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi, is expected to pump a total of Sh1 trillion into the railway by the time it terminates at the border town of Malaba. "In bilateral debt category, the stock of debt from the People's Republic of China grew by 52.8 per cent to Sh478.6 billion, accounting for 12.1 per cent of the total national government's debt position," says the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in its 2018 Economic Survey. China's s debt to Kenya has increased more than seven times from Sh63 billion in 2013, overtaking Japan as the country's leading bilateral lender to Kenya. By 2010, China had lent Kenya Sh14 billion, trailing Japan (Sh62 billion), France (Sh28 billion), and Germany (Sh16 billion). Japan would continue holding the pole position until 2013, when China deposed it. The change was largely driven by China's increased interest in the development of Kenya's infrastructure, with the game changer being the construction of the SGR. The new railway's financing pushed up China's debt stock from Sh252 billion in 2015 to Sh465 billion in 2016. 'Not us' But on Wednesday evening, Office of the Auditor General while responding to media reports has disowned the report, stating that it did not come from its offices. “Our attention has been drawn to reports that OAG Kenya has released an audit report on Kenya Ports for FY 2017/18. This is to clarify that the Office has not released any such report,” reads the tweet.
Page 3 of Auditor General's report. Kenya's port collateral for China loan... pic.twitter.com/ok09sHKd3G— John Githongo (@johngithongo) December 19, 2018