Kenya misses out on Chinese debt waiver, here's why

In Africa, Kenya owes the third largest amount of debt to China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 4, 2018

News has emerged that Kenya is not one of the 17 countries that will benefit from the waiver announced by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi, despite owing the third largest amount of debt to China, Kenya will miss out on the relief due to the status of its economy.

The representatives explained the debt waiver would only apply to countries with struggling economies in Africa.

According to a 2021 report from a Nation Media Group publication, Kenya owed the third largest amount of money to China in Africa after Angola and Ethiopia.

At the time Angola led with a debt of $25 billion (Sh2.9 trillion), Ethiopia followed with $13.5 (1.6 trillion), and Kenya with $7.9 billion (Sh946 billion).

State Councillor and Foreign minister Wang Yi mentioned during his remarks at the coordinators’ meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that China will waive the 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had matured by the end of 2021.

The African countries mentioned here refer to the least developed countries. Therefore, Kenya is not on this list,” Chinese authorities told Business Daily.

Kenya is classified as lower-middle income according to The World Bank which divides the world's countries into several development groups based on a set of criteria.

There are four major categories: high-income countries, higher medium-income countries, lower-middle-income countries, and low-income countries.

The high-income countries have a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of at least $12,696 (Sh1.5 million), while the upper middle-income countries have a GNI per capita of at least $4,096 (Sh490,000).

The GNI per capita in lower-middle-income countries stands at between $1,046 (Sh125,467) and $4,095 (Sh491,195), while low-income countries have a GNI per capita of $1,045 (Sh125,347) or less.

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