Chinese loans may trap Africa into debt – experts

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EYEAFRICA TV: Some leading African analysts have said China may be trapping African countries into debt by offering them heavy loans they may not be able to repay.

“In the end, China will ask defaulting countries for other forms of re-payment such as harbors and land,” Northwest University Professor Andre Duvenhage told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

He said he believes that in the long run, China might start influencing political and economic decisions of certain African countries.

However, China denies that its loans to the continent have political strings attached.

“China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa,” President Xi Jinping told leaders at the two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last month.

During the meeting, Xi offered Africa $60 billion in new development financing, in addition to another $60 billion Beijing had offered the continent in 2015.

“China is not coming to Africa to develop it. Africa has been weak in thinking that other countries are coming here to benefit them,” University of South Africa’s professor Shadrack Gutto told Anadolu Agency.

He said he believes China has its own strategy when it comes to dealing with Africa, so the continent should be careful when signing deals.

“We have to work on our own interests to see how we benefit,” he said in an interview on Friday.

This week, Sierra Leone cancelled a $400 million Chinese-funded project to build an airport in the West African country.

Local media quoted the country’s aviation minister Kabineh Kallon as saying that the current President Julius Maada Bio did not see the need for a new airport.

The loan agreement with China had been reached by former President Ernest Bai Koroma before losing elections earlier this year.

“I see Sierra Leone setting a precedent for other Africa countries to follow and open their eyes,” professor Duvenhage told Anadolu Agency.

According to media reports, China has become the largest bilateral financier of infrastructure development projects on the continent.

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