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China Now Owns More Than 70% of Kenya’s External Debt

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Kenya’s public debt load recently surpassed the 5 trillion shillings mark ($50 billion), renewing questions over the government’s borrowing binge, how it would show the proceeds in terms of economic growth, and whether it could repay these loans in the long run.

Much of that lending has come from China in recent years, but new data shows that Kenya’s obligations to Beijing go much deeper than many ordinary Kenyans realize. China is now by far Kenya’s largest lender accounting for 72% of bilateral debt by the end of March, according to documents from the Treasury obtained by Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper.

That is a 15-percentage point surge in total debt from 2016 when China accounted for 57% of Kenya’s external debt. That figure is also eight times more than what the next lending partner, France, gave to Kenya.

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