June 18, 2019

Rwanda Says Not Afraid of Chinese Loans

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Chinese envoy Rao Hongwei after signing of the grant agreenment with Dr Claudine Uwera, the State Minister in Charge of Economic Planning in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning

Government said Tuesday that loans from China are “still very low” as the two sides signed a new multi-million dollar grant for a major road.

The two governments were unveiling a new grant to fund construction of a 10.3km road from Prince House in Giporoso-Remera to Nyandungu to Masaka. The road is already there and in good shape, but the grant will expand it, in preparation for a flyover in the Giporoso area.

“We are not afraid of grants and loans that we are given by China, because when you see our rate of debts you find it is still very low,” said Dr Claudine Uwera, the State Minister in Charge of Economic Planning in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Data from the China-Africa Research Initiative (Cari) at John Hopkins University, released in October last year shows that Ethiopia owes Beijing $13.73 billion, followed by Kenya at $9.8 billion. Uganda owes $2.96 billion and Tanzania $2.34 billion.

Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi owe China the least amounts — $289 million, $182 million and $99 million respectively.

With Rwanda having nearly $3.5b total debt, it shows China’s loans count a small portion.

The grant signed today is part of the eight major initiatives and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan, that the Chine’s President Xi Jinping agreed on with President Kagame during visit in Rwanda. Kagame has also been to China several times.

“Today’s agreement won’t be the only good news for us. It’s also today that the RwandAir opens the direct flight from Kigali to Guangzou. In Chinese we call it ‘Double Happiness’,” said Chinese envoy Rao Hongwei.

This project will have a flyover and an underpass road for it’s first kilometer, exactly at Giporoso-Remera. The Chronicles reported details in its story “Chinese To Construct New Kigali Flyover To Ease Traffic During CHOGM 2020”.

The new road will be turned from the current two-way two-lane to a two-way four-lane road, a move that will significantly reduce traffic congestion along the road, say the two sides.

Meanwhile, there was visible contradiction between the State Minister and the Chinese envoy as to the exact amount of the project.

State Minister Dr Uwera, who spoke first, said the grant was “$42.8m”, whereas the Chinese envoy gave different figures in the written speech distributed to reporters.

The speech said the grant was “three hundred million RBM Yuan (about forty four million USD)”.

However, in the oral speech, he said “$42m”.

Ministry officials at the meeting scrambled to convince reporters that there was minor misunderstanding, promising to send exact figures later.

Meanwhile, immediate after the Chinese walked out, the Dutch envoy Frédérique de Man also arrived to sign her own grant agreement.

The Kingdom of Netherlands is giving Rwanda the Euros 9.3 million (about Rwf 9.2 billion) to support the justice sector specifically the Supreme Court, National Public Prosecution Authority and Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS).

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