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Kenyatta: China's 'takeover' of Mombasa Port is pure propaganda

President Uhuru Kenyatta had finally responded to those who have been bashing him over the country's ballooning public debt. Speaking to journalists in Mombasa on Friday, December 28, Uhuru argued the huge loans were being put in good use and therefore there should be no cause for alarm.

Q: The Daily Nation of Kenya recently reported that in a letter to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), the Office of the Auditor General of Kenya raised questions over its Mombasa-Nairobi Railway loan payment agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China which uses the Mombasa Port as a collateral, revealing that Kenya could lose the port if it defaults in the payment. In response to this, the Office of the Auditor General clarified the situation and dismissed the report on December 19. KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku told the media,"There is no risk of losing the port. In fact, we will pay this loan ahead of time". What is your comment?

A: Regarding the issue mentioned by you, we have checked with the relevant Chinese financial institution and found that the allegation that the Kenyan side used the Mombasa Port as a collateral in its payment agreement with the Chinese financial institution Mombasa-Nairobi Railway is not true. The report you just cited said that the Kenyan side also has made clarifications on it.

At present, the China-Kenya cooperation on the Mombasa-Nairobi railway is progressing smoothly. When cooperating with African countries including Kenya, Chinese companies and financial institutions will always conduct joint and thorough scientific study on the feasibility of the projects and then proceed to determine construction and funding plans and scales to guard against causing debt risks and fiscal burdens for Africa.

So the issue of the take over of Mombasa Port by China is pure propaganda. We are ahead of our payment schedule for the SGR loan and there is no cause of alarm . People keep asking me why I go to China. China is opening their eyes and meeting Kenya, and indeed the rest of Africa at their point of need. They are offering financial packages which we can afford.

The issue of debt is not about incurring debt, it's about how you use it. Are you using that debt for development? To expand your GDP? To open up your country? When we talk about debt it must be viewed in comparison with the GDP. I am confident that Kenya's debt is for infrastructure development, that will not only benefit the current generation but future generations too. In less than 6 years, since I came into office, we have implemented many projects.

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