The influence of China over African countries and around the world can neither be denied or ignored.
Western powers, aware of China’s efforts to have an impact in the world, especially Africa, raised concerns about the future of most of the African countries.
In Kenya, China is striving to leave a mark, not only in infrastructural development but in social-political sectors too.
In the minds of many Kenyans, China and the Chinese came into the limelight after the construction and the completion of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
At a cost of 360 billion shillings, the SGR became Kenya’s most expensive infrastructure since independence.
Kenya took a loan of 227 billion shillings from the Exim Bank of China for the construction of the SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi.
53 Percent of Kenyans
In research done by Pew Research, in 2018, 53 percent of Kenyans trust in China’s president Xi Jinping to “do the right thing in world affairs.”
The President of China has been accused by some Western powers, including the United States of America of using the loans his government gives African countries to trap them and later “colonize” them.
Most African countries have turned to China for loans which come with tough terms and conditions in the event a country defaults to pay the said loan on time.
In Kenya, for instance, it is said that the Port of Mombasa might be taken over by the Chinese government, including others strategic assets such as Kenyan embassies abroad the country defaults the loan it owes China.
Currently, 70 percent of what Kenya owes lenders comes from China. This means for every 100 shillings Kenya uses to pay debts, 70 shillings goes to China.
Nigeria and Tunisia tied with Kenya at 53 percent of citizens who believe in China’s president in doing the right thing in world affairs.
44 percent of South Africans believe in Xi Jinping and his positive impact on world affairs followed by 58 percent in the Philippines.
50 percent of the Russians, 42 percent of the Australians, 42 percent of the Canadians and 39 percent South Koreans believe the same as Kenyans in Xi Jinping.
The Debt Trap
Currently, China is the largest lender to Kenya, accounting for at least 70 percent of all the money Kenya owes creditors.
For instance, China’s loans to Kenya between 2014 and 2018 tripled to 398.32 billion shillings from 222.27 billion shillings in December 2014 accounting for 99.57 billion shillings a year during the period.
In December 2018, Kenya’s total bilateral debt for the year was 878.45 billion shillings. China accounted for 70.71 percent of the debt meaning for every 100 shillings Kenya borrowed, 70 shillings came from China.
In paying the loans, in 2018, China accounted for every 23 shillings of every 100 shillings the country owed foreign creditors.