Skip to content

China-Africa Summit kicks of amidst warning of debt trap

Storyline:Business, National News
President Mohamed Farmaajo exchanges a handshake with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping Friday ahead of the Summit. Photo: Villa Somalia

By Fauxile Kibet

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which involves 50, African states kicks off Monday with China seeking to deepen its influence on the continent – which appears to be a new contest of tug-of-war between the West, America and China.

The conference which is held once in every three years will see China hand out billions of dollars in assistance and loans to Africa – which critics now say may be a debt trap for the continent.

In 2015, during a similar summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the Asian country had a $60 billion budget for Africa.

Economic experts now warn that continued borrowing by African countries could see the continent loading up on billions of dollars in debt which could arm-twist African states into handing over control of key assets to donor countries such as America, China and the West.

Foreign donors have had specific interests on African interests with most seeking partnership in Security-especially at the horn of Africa.

Somalia signed the Belt and Road Initiative’ and ‘Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement Friday.

Beijing has already opened its first ever-overseas naval base in Djibuti an indication that China is fighting for a stake at the region where America, Britain and Middle East countries have also set base.

Last week, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta held talks with United States president Donald Trump where they both agreed to further cooperation in counter terrorism.

Kenya and the United states have partnered for years in fighting extremism, in Somalia – where both countries have sent troops to fight Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab militia.

The United States has however only sent advisors to technically assist African Union troops in Somalia and not large troops.

“To further enhance this counterterrorism collaboration, President Trump welcomed Kenya’s decision to join the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS,” the two leaders said in a joint statement issued by the White House.

The agreement saw Kenya benefit from Military equipment made in the United States.

China’s Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming while addressing journalists a few days ago argued that Africa’s debt burden was being worsened by the global financial crisis and low commodity prices – which affects Africa’s exports.

“Overall, according to the statistics that I have, the majority of the debt burden is not necessarily created by China,” he argues.

Data shows that trade between China and African countries rose by 14% in the past year to $170 billion in what china argues that loans the belt and road initiative –  a plan to bolster a network of infrastructure connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa were not “debt traps”.


Organizers of this week’s conference argue that the main agenda of the conference is to foster common growth and development between African countries and Beijing.

But South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu who spoke to journalists ahead of the summit argues that there has to be a solution for the trade imbalance. Most African nations export minerals and buy Chinese manufactured goods hence running in huge deficits.