China has agreed to restructure some of Ethiopia’s loans, including a loan for a four billion dollars railway linking its capital Addis Ababa with neighbouring Djibouti, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday.
“`During our stay, we had the opportunity to enact limited restructuring of some of our loans.
“In particular, the loan for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway which was meant to be paid over 10 years has now been extended to 30 years.
“Its maturity period has also been extended,” Ahmed told newsmen in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, upon return from a summit in China.
President Xi Jinping announced 60 billion dollars in aid and loans for Africa on Monday while hosting more than 40 of the continent’s leaders in Beijing, saying that the money came with no expectation of anything in return.
Beijing pushed back on criticism that it was shackling poorer countries with heavy debt burdens they will struggle to pay back, portraying the Chinese government as a magnanimous one motivated only to share its experience of rapid industrialization.
“China’s investment in Africa does not come with any political conditions attached and will neither interfere in internal politics nor make demands that people feel are difficult to fulfill,” Xi said during a keynote address to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Monday.
Zi said the money will be focused on infrastructure to help speed African countries’ development, not on “vanity projects.”
The package outlined by Xi also includes medical aid, environmental protection, agricultural training and assistance, and government scholarships and vocational training for more than 100,000 young Africans.
At the last forum, held in Johannesburg three years ago, Xi also pledged $60 billion in investment.
He said Monday that this money had already been granted or earmarked, so the latest announcement represented a second round of 60 billion dollars.
The program is part of Xi’s broader Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious $120-billion-plus project that aims to link 65 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa — together accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s population — through infrastructure projects and trade.
At a time when President Trump is engaged in trade fights with the United States’ neighbors and allies, the Chinese leader seems to relish the opportunity to appear as a popular international statesman and champion of the liberal economic order.
For two days in a row, every headline on the front page of the state-run People’s Daily started with the words “Xi Jinping,” as the president met with the leaders of Angola, Gabon, Mauritius, Senegal and elsewhere.
He also hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Analysts have raised concerns about African countries, many of which are subject to the whims of commodity markets, not being able to repay Chinese loans.
The three countries most vulnerable because of large debts owed to China are Djibouti, Congo and Zambia, say academics at the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University.
Zambia, which has a gross domestic product of 19.5 billion dollars, according to the World Bank, had taken about 6.4 billion dollars in loans from China, the researchers wrote in a briefing paper last month.
But Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who chairs the African Union, said that rather than viewing the investment as a “debt trap,” other countries should be asking why they’re not giving Africa as much assistance as China.
“We have benefited a lot from China’s support in our social and economic programs, and that has continued to strengthen the partnership between China and Rwanda,” Kagame told the People’s Daily.