Chinas debt to Kenya increased by 52.8 per cent to Sh478.6 billion in 2017 from Sh313.1 billion in 2016, stretching its lead as the countrys top bilateral lender.

The Asian country now controls 66 per cent of Kenya’s total bilateral debt, which stood at Sh722.6 billion as at June 2017.

China’s s debt to Kenya has increased more than seven times from Sh63 billion in 2013 largely due to increased interest in the development of the country’s infrastructure, with the game changer being the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.

Kenya spent over Sh440 billion on the SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi with plans to pump a total of Sh1 trillion into the railway by the time it terminates at the border town of Malaba.

Debt stock

The new railway’s financing pushed up China’s debt stock from Sh252 billion in 2015 to Sh465 billion in 2016.

The world's second-largest economy has for the past few years tightened its grip on Kenya’s future overtaking Japan which was until 2013, the leading bilateral lender.

By 2010, China had lent Kenya a paltry Sh14 billion, trailing Japan (Sh62 billion). However, as at June 2017, Japan's loans to Kenya stood at Sh91.4 billion compared to China's Sh722.6 billion.