East African countries picked financing deals despite concerns about their debt burden.
East African governments went to China with great expectations of funding for their mega-infrastructure projects, and returned with a share of the $60 billion pie given to Africa.
Rwanda, represented at the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (Focac) by President Paul Kagame, signed a memorandum of understanding with the China-Africa Development Fund (CAD) to accelerate joint ventures between Rwandan and Chinese investors.
The value of the agreement under this deal is still unknown but the Development Fund’s basket is worth $10 billion aimed at facilitating foreign direct investments from China to Africa.
According to Emmanuel Hategeka, chief operating officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the fund will “accelerate matching opportunities between Rwanda and Chinese investors. The $10 billion China-Africa Development Fund is a huge opportunity to facilitate foreign direct investment flows to Africa.”
Mr Hategeka also termed China a “true friend indeed” for extending interest free loans to landlocked African countries like Rwanda.
RDB went on to sign agreements with the China Council for Promotion of International Trade to deepen co-operation with similar development organisations in China.
Rwanda hosted an investment and tourism roadshow at the summit where Chinese investors were presented with business opportunities and incentives currently available in Rwanda.
Other agreements included one with the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural and Sciences, signed by Patrick Karangwa, the director general of the Rwanda Agriculture Board, through which Rwanda will benefit from Chinese science and technology innovations.
President Paul Kagame endorsed Chinese aid and investments in Africa as “deeply transformational” and respectful of the continent’s global position.
During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Rwanda in July, the two leaders signed 15 agreements worth millions of dollars on trade, infrastructure, investment, e-commerce, human resource, culture, science and technology, aviation, mining, law enforcement and visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders.
Both countries have a friendly political relationship, maintaining close ties between their ruling parties, the Rwanda Patriotic Front of Rwanda and the Communist Party of China.
China pledged to give Tanzania $39,295,000, which will go towards security co-operation, industrialisation, mining and agriculture.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who represented President John Magufuli at the meeting, said he would convene ministerial meeting of ministers whose portfolios would benefit from the assistance to discuss how to share out the funds.
The Xinhua news agency quoted President Xi as saying his country is willing to deepen the friendly win-win co-operation in various fields with Tanzania to better benefit the two nation.
President Xi said China supports Tanzania’s efforts to safeguard its rights and interests, developing the economy and improving people’s livelihoods, and is willing to strengthen sharing of experience in inter-party exchanges, governance, development and poverty reduction.
President Xi also said the two countries should implement key projects, strengthen people-to-people exchanges, and maintain close communication and co-ordination on major international issues.
China is one of Tanzania’s key supporters in its industrialisation plan that is geared towards technology transfer in agro-processing industries, courtesy to China Africa Co-operation.
On its part, Uganda travelled to China hoping to advance discussions on funding for the standard gauge railway but returned without a deal.
Well placed sources on the delegation tell The EastAfrican the Chinese were apparently not keen on the matter which is still firmly under the control of the lender, the China Import and Export Bank.
State House says the delegation led by President Museveni was able to ink an MoU between China National Offshore Oil Company CNOOC and the Uganda National Oil Company for exploration of a new block for oil in Uganda’s Albertine Graben.
China also offered two credit lines one for 200 million yuan (Ush103 billion) and the other for 70 million yuan (Ush38 billion). Kampala was also to benefit from the $60 billion China has offered under the Belt and Silk Road initiative.
In a sign that the Chinese loans were becoming a thorny issue, Kenya was on record asking Beijing to consider providing part grant financing for its second phase Naivasha-Kisumu standard gauge railway, with the rest as a loan.
“The Naivasha-Kisumu phase of the SGR will cost $3.8 billion. And owing to its regional significance, I would request that 50 per cent of its cost be provided as part of grant financing,” President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have told President Xi during a meeting at the sidelines of the Focac.
Nairobi also got its way after China agreed to a public-private partnership investment for the 30km expressway from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Westlands suburb in Nairobi.