Following allegations that China was gearing up for Entebbe airport following a loan extended to Uganda, the embassy of China in Uganda has refuted the allegations saying, not a single project in Africa has ever been “confiscated” by China because of failing to pay Chinese loans.
Through a communication issued on Sunday evening by the Embassy of China in Uganda, the government of the People’s Republic of China refuted what it termed as malicious allegations that “Uganda surrenders key assets for China cash,” saying, the information has no factual basis and ill-intended only to distort the good relations that China enjoys with developing countries including Uganda.
Entebbe airport expansion and upgrading project is a US$200m preferential loan project financed by the Export-Import (EXIM) bank of China. The two parties of China-Exim bank and the Ugandan side, signed the loan agreement in March 2015 and began construction in May 2016.
“Despite the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic, China Communication Construction Company (CCCC), the contractor, has managed to catch up with the schedule of the project with a firm support and solidarity from Ugandan government, especially Uganda’s ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of works and transport, Civil aviation administration and relevant ministries, departments and agencies,” stated a communication from the Chinese embassy.
The project which is said to have reached 75.11% completion, is expected to be completed by December 2022. “All loan agreements, including that of the Entebbe Airport expansion and upgrading project, are voluntarily signed by both parties through dialogue and negotiation on equal footing without any hidden terms or political conditions attached,” explained the Chinese government.
According to the Chinese government, terms of the loan agreement for Entebbe airport expansion and upgrade project are in full compliance with the prevailing conventions and practices in the international financial market. “Even in the case of extreme cases of debt default, China has sought to reduce the burden of African countries by means of debt restructuring, mitigation and debt reduction through friendly negotiations,” explained the embassy of China in Uganda.
“The very few noises will not interfere with the determination and unity of China-Uganda cooperation, nor will it shake the solid ground of China-Uganda friendship. We are fully aware of Uganda’s expectations to benefit from China-Uganda cooperation and are willing to listen to constructive suggestions as we continue our efforts to ensure China-Uganda cooperation to be more inclusive and benefit more common people,” concluded a communique.
Vianney Luggya, the public relations manager for Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), earlier clarified that the government cannot give away a national asset like an international airport. “We have said it before and repeat, that it has not happened, and is not going to happen. There isn’t an ounce of truth in this, and it should be disregarded with the contempt it deserves,” said Luggya.
The UCAA spokesperson explained that whereas it is true that the authority opened up a sales collection account in Stanbic bank where all the revenues are deposited in line with the Escrow account agreement terms, it does not mean that any other party can control UCAA finances. “The Authority enjoys the freedom and liberty of spending what is collected as per the budget,” he stated, adding that the loan terms provide a grace period of 7 years.