Opinion: When will the grace period of the Chinese loans end? – While, Kenya and Uganda continues to borrow more!
The Government of Kenya and the Government of Uganda, should both worry about their arrangements and their growing debts, as the non-sustainable rates of debt and higher interests. As the unnatural growth of the national budget, where the lack of revenue is covered with more state debt. To cover both salaries and development projects. All of this has happen over the recent years. As more and more of the yearly budget goes to pay interest on old loans, as the old loans also mature and the rates will become more dire. As the strength of the economy isn’t going in the same rates as the loans. This is in the end a debt trap. A debt trap China has used in other countries.
Sri Lanka is the recent example, which has come into a debt trap, where the Chinese loans has become so dire, become so big and not able to recover. That the collateral for the state was to favorable lease the harbor of Hambantota to the Chinese. They had too, since they couldn’t repay the creditor from Peking. That should be realization from all the others who borrows big and think that the Chinese will not get something valuable back for their funding.
This should be a warning for the Kenyan and Ugandan counterparts, this should be a warning for President Kenyatta and President Museveni. That is if they care about the state resources, about their minerals and about the possible extractions from their republics. If they want to be debt-slaves, or lease away the crown jewels to the Chinese, because they promised favorable debt plans, that in the end put them in juxtaposition, that they cannot come out off; unless they trade away something very valuable. If that would be licenses to drill oil in Turkana or in Bunyoro.
Who knows what the end-game of these massive loans are and if the Presidents and their parties plans to repay them. Or hope that the next generation will try to invent new way of generating money. If so, then they are saved by rare luck and not by planning ahead. These loans are big and taking bigger and bigger slices of the GDP. They are going far beyond the levels of revenue and possible future forecast of funds. Therefore, the loans can only at this point benefit the ones giving them. They will get the repayments and the interests. If they don’t get that, they will take collateral and take other state entities to get their values back. The Chinese are doing that in Sri Lanka, they could easily do that with Kenya and Uganda too. They are in for the taking and ready to muscled out.
The Chinese doesn’t play and doesn’t play with money, they will recollect and they will recover the funds spent. As they are not playing games, they are really investing and hoping to get paid-in-full. They are waiting for the numbers to go from red to black. They don’t expect to loose, and if they do. They will figure other ways to collect the lost.
President Kenyatta and President Museveni should know this, but I doubt they are thinking in this direction right now. They are eating and not caring, but their states and their economist should worry. As the growing debts has a backside, not only the interests and the lack of development it creates, as they have to find bigger revenue to cover the debt and the mature loans, as they have to settle old affairs and such. They don’t go away or get deleted over nothing. They got to take charge and find a way to solve it.
The Chinese will take advantage if they start to default, if they struggle to pay, which could come, if the loans and the negative spiral of lack of revenue continues. That is if the state doesn’t find ways to repay. Than, the Chinese might take a port, might take state owned enterprise, but surely they will be paid-in-full. Peace.