Amidst Uganda’s Saga, China Inks Agreement With Burundi On Expanding & Modernizing Main Airport

Amidst Uganda’s Saga, China Inks Agreement With Burundi On Expanding & Modernizing Main Airport

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Burundi and China on Saturday signed an agreement on expanding and modernizing Melchior Ndadaye International Airport, Burundi’s main airport in Bujumbura, the capital.

These come amidst a saga where a top Chinese lender imposed “aggressive” repayment terms on a $200 million loan to expand Uganda’s Entebbe international airport that many predict will be taken by China alledging that this was a debt trap.

Chinese state banks are the biggest source of infrastructure funding to Africa and have been criticized for predatory lending practices although details of contracts are rarely made public.

Under the loan from China’s Exim Bank to modernize the Entebbe Airport, the Ugandan government is required to channel all revenue from the country’s only international airport into an account held jointly with the lender, according to the contract published Monday by AidData.

The government is then required to use part of the revenue to repay the loan each year before it can invest in public services.

The agreement was signed at the Burundian foreign ministry by Burundian Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Minister Albert Shingiro and Chinese Ambassador to Burundi Zhao Jiangping.

“This project was initiated by leaders of our two countries in 2020, but its implementation was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zhao said.

The signing ceremony marked the official start of the project.

Zhao said the project has three components — rehabilitating runways and parking areas, constructing a control tower and an administration building, and supplying equipment for air traffic control, for communication and for meteorology.

“This project also reflects the quality of fraternal friendship between China and Burundi,” she said. “This friendship is marked by mutual trust, solidarity and win-win cooperation.”

Burundian foreign minister Shingiro said: “This is a very good project that will cement our traditional bilateral relations.” an accessible web community

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