China pledges to waive 23 maturing interest-free loans for 17 African countries

While disclosing it during his address at the recent China-Africa Cooperation Forum, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the move demonstrates China’s commitment to strengthening economic ties with the African continent.

The Foreign Minister added that this demonstrates how the Chinese government is backing up its words on Africa’s development with concrete actions.

Although the 17 countries have not been named, Business Insider Africa’s checks show that Djibouti, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa are among the African countries strongly indebted to China.

A copy of Yi’s speech, obtained by Business Insider Africa, also mentioned other specific ways China intends to support Africa in the future.

On the one hand, China will continue to support the mainland’s efforts to upgrade its infrastructure by providing financing and investment assistance under the Chinese government’s transcontinental Belt and Road Initiative.

China will also provide emergency food aid to 17 needy African countries this year.

Part of the statement also says that China will increase its imports from Africa.

“We will also continue to increase imports from Africa, support the further development of Africa’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors, and expand cooperation in emerging industries such as the digital economy, health, green and low-carbon,” the statement read.

Finally, in line with its commitment to development cooperation with African countries, China said it would redirect $10 billion of its Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to Africa through the International Monetary Fund. (IMF).

As you may know, there is a widespread opinion about China’s alleged debt traps in Africa. Related is the narrative that many African countries are indebted to China.

However, a recent report by Debt Justice showed that many African countries owe three times more debt to Western banks, oil traders and asset managers than to Chinese lenders.

The report also added that the practice of blaming China for Africa’s debt crises is just a distraction.

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