William Ruto, the president of Kenya, has arrived in Beijing for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which will take place there over the course of two days.
As the most important event of the year and a significant celebration of the Belt and Road Initiative’s 10th anniversary, this forum is of immense diplomatic significance to China.
Leaders, officials, and representatives from various sectors from over 140 nations and 30 international organisations have formally confirmed their participation.
China launched the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, and its goal is to build infrastructure and trade networks that connect Asia, Europe, Africa, and other continents along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Over 150 nations and 30 international organisations have used the BRI framework in the last ten years, which is a significant development for international collaboration.
According to the nation’s vice-president, William Ruto plans to ask China for a $1 billion loan and a plan to restructure debt repayment.
The head of state, who criticised his predecessor’s strong reliance on Beijing, will go to China at an indeterminate time, according to Rigathi Gachagua. He will request “more time to slowly repay the debt” in addition to a billion dollars to finish road projects that have been put off due to a lack of funds.
One of East Africa’s greatest countries, Kenya, has accrued debt of more than $68 billion, or 67% of its GDP.
According to Rigathi Gachagua, “We are a responsible government, we can’t say we won’t pay the debt,” she told a nearby radio station.
William Ruto’s second-largest creditor behind the World Bank is China, which he hasn’t visited since being elected in August 2022.
It is financing the construction of a new terminal in Mombasa, the largest port in East Africa and located on the coast of Kenya.
The most expensive infrastructure project since the nation’s independence in 1963 was completed with a $5 billion (€4.7 billion) loan from Beijing. It was the construction of a train line that connects the port city of Mombasa with Naivasha in the Rift Valley via the nation’s capital Nairobi.
William Ruto had criticised the loans taken out by his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, during the election campaign and promised to find other means to encourage growth so that the country’s essential infrastructure could be built.
China has refuted charges that it is drowning some nations, notably those in Africa, in debt as a result of its extravagant loans.
Beijing’s ambassador to Kenya, Wang Yi, hailed the two countries’ collaboration and their “win-win” relationship.
Despite a thriving economy, almost one-third of Kenyans are still considered to be poor.
Due to the global repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a terrible regional drought that affected the country’s crucial agriculture industry, economic growth fell to 4.8% in 2018 from 7.6% in 2021.
At a rate of 6.8% on an annual basis last month, inflation remained high.
Kenya’s capacity to repay foreign lenders was downgraded from “stable to negative” in July by the international ratings firm Fitch Ratings, which cited tax increases and societal instability as reasons.