International News

Uganda surrenders airport, other assets to China over unpaid loan

By  | 

Lawal Adenike

The Export-Import bank of China, also known as Exim Bank, has taken over the Uganda Entebbe International Airport and other assets in the country over the failure of the Uganda Government to repay a loan.

In November 2015, the Musevin-led Ugandan Government signed an agreement with the Exim Bank to borrow $207 million at two percent upon disbursement.

The loan had a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period, but it had now appeared that the transaction signed with the Chinese lenders practically means Uganda “surrendered” its most prominent and only international airport.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) revealed some provisions in the Financing Agreement with China that exposed Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets to be attached and taken over by Chinese lenders upon negotiation in Beijing.

However, despite the reports that President Yoweri Museveni had sent a delegation to Beijing for a renegotiation with the Chinese over toxic clauses that expose the East Africa country, the Airport was taken over by China.

According to multiple reports, the Ugandan Government waived international immunity in the agreement it signed to secure the loans, exposing the Airport to take over without international protection.

The country, in March 2021, sent a delegation to Beijing hoping to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the deal but the officials came back empty-handed as China would not allow the terms of the original deal to be varied.

Uganda’s Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, last week apologised to parliament for the “mishandling of the $207 million loan” from the China Exim Bank to expand Entebbe International Airport.

Progress of works at the airport, built in 1972, has reached 75.2 per cent, with two runways having reached overall completion of 100 per cent.

Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s only international airport and handles over 1.9 million passengers per year. Its seizure by China would greatly dent the legacy of the 77-year-old Museveni, who came to power on the back of an armed uprising in 1986, and expose him to election defeat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: