Chinese loans power Kenya's progress, not burden on citizens

GMT 23:15 2016 Tuesday ,19 April

Arab Today, arab today Chinese loans power Kenya's progress, not burden on citizens

Kenya and China flags
Nairobi - XINHUA

The hefty loans and grants Kenya has secured from China have powered the East African nation's socio-economic progress and will not place a burden on citizens, a Kenyan scholar said on Tuesday.

In a commentary published by major Kenyan dailies on Tuesday, diplomacy scholar Cliff Mboya said that Kenya is better off with Chinese loans as they are "cheaper" and not tied to ideological bias.

Mboya said China's concessional loans, grants and technical aid were given with no strings attached and that the loans were easier to repay, different from those extended by Western countries and Bretton woods Institutions.

"History proves that loans from the Bretton Woods Institutions were expensive and a tool for political manipulation while facts suggest that loans from China are cheaper and not tied to conditionality.

"Unlike lenders from the West, the Chinese government has explicitly stated in policy that it does not interfere with internal affairs of recipient countries and that it fully respects their right to independently choose their paths and models of development," Mboya said.

He further said that financial aid from the West had "little impact" on the Kenyan economy as it was channeled towards "non-productive ventures".

"Besides creating dependency, loans from the West are too low to enable any meaningful progress. Critics have even coined them 'humanitarian alibi' since they have little impact on economically promising countries like Kenya," said Mboya.

He blamed the stringent conditionality imposed by Bretton Woods Institutions for the economic malaise Kenya experienced in the 1990s.

"This must be a constant reminder of Kenya's debt history and the best alternative offered by China," said Mboya while clarifying that Kenya's debt to GDP ratio was not as bad as depicted by some critics.

He also cited the books of American author John Perkins to illustrate how development aid from the West has failed to lift millions of poor African citizens from poverty.

Kenyans should not be worried about the risk of borrowing loans from China to finance infrastructure development, instead the benefit will be huge, Mboya said.

He said Chinese loans and grants, which are behind Kenya's infrastructure modernization, had transformed rather than burdened the country.

Chinese loans and grants are critical to the implementation of Kenya's industrialization blue print and pose minimal risks to its future generations, he added.

"We must look at the bigger picture and take into account the progress offered by economic engagement with China," Mboya said.

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