Reports: Uganda loses main airport to Chinese after defaults

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According to several media outlets across Africa, Uganda lost possession of Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport, as well as other strategic assets, as the country was unable to repay a loan to the ‘Export-Import Bank of China.

Sahara reporters wrote that President Yoweri Museveni had sent a delegation to renegotiate with the Chinese government on “toxic clauses that exposed the East African country”. It was in vain.

Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport is approximately 40 miles from Kampala, the capital, and is the country’s only international airport. It would be used by ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Eni, all companies doing business in Alaska.

The Ugandan government led by Museveni had, on November 17, 2015, signed an agreement with Exim Bank to borrow $ 207 million at 2% upon disbursement, according to the Sahara Reporter. The loan was scheduled to mature in 20 years and had a seven-year grace period. But as part of the deal, there were conditions requiring the Ugandan government to hand over the airport to Chinese lenders, who belong to the Chinese Communist government.

According to Daily monitor, the Ugandan government lifted international immunity in the agreement it signed to guarantee the loans, exposing the airport to take over without international protection.

The abandonment of much of the country’s infrastructure is reminiscent of the unease voiced by many Alaskans after former Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed an agreement with China to finance the design and construction of the now legendary Alaska LNG project from the North Slope to Nikiski. .

Walker and former Alaska Gasline Development Corporation chairman Keith Meyer signed a joint development agreement with three major Chinese entities, all controlled by the Communist government:

  • Sinopec, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, generates annual sales of $ 456 billion.
  • bank of china is one of the top five banks, with customers in over 50 countries and regions.
  • With an estimated amount of $ 813.5 billion, Chinese investment company is the third largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
Walker smiles for the camera after signing the joint mining agreement with the Chinese.

“This is a big project with big players and big benefits,” Walker noted at the time. “There are more steps before a final investment decision is made, but the participation of the world’s largest LNG buyer in this project means that the Alaska LNG project enjoys favorable market engagement. at the highest level. This project will finally allow Alaska to reach its full potential as a state. As we go from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country to the lowest, we will build a stronger Alaska. “

That year, a cybersecurity firm said that a Chinese university probed the computer networks of Alaska state departments, specifically the Department of Natural Resources, as well as private companies during the trade mission. de Walker “in an apparent attempt to determine vulnerabilities and gain illegitimate access.”

Recorded Future Company released a report indicating that the attack originated from Tsinghua University’s IT infrastructure.

The report says Alaska was not the only target of “cyber espionage” at Tsinghua’s infrastructure, dubbed an elite Chinese university by Recorded Future, according to publication Government technology.

While Walker courted China, this loan deal did not work out so well for Ugandans, and in 2018 Walker was removed from office and the new administration terminated the deal.

Several commentators at the time warned that Alaska should be careful not to go to bed with the People’s Republic of China, pointing to the many assets across the African continent that were already owned by China.

Background: In February 2015, South Korea, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency, awarded the Ugandan government a grant of Ugandan $ 27 billion for the modernization of the airport.

The Ugandan government has started the upgrade and three-phase expansion of a project that was to run until 2035 and cost US $ 586 million. With the South Korean grant and the Chinese loan, not all costs were covered. Funding was not secured to complete the project.

“In desperation, Uganda sent a delegation to Beijing in March 2021 hoping to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the deal, but officials returned empty-handed because China would not allow the terms of the deal. the original agreement be changed, “wrote the Sahara Reporter. .

“Last week Uganda’s Finance Minister Matia Kasaija apologized to Parliament for the ‘mismanagement of the $ 207 million loan’ from China Exim Bank to expand Entebbe International Airport,” he said. reported the news agency.

The airport, built in 1972 and used by the Ugandan military, handles more than 1.9 million passengers a year, and the renovation is said to be 75.2 percent complete.

China’s control of the airport will create a political challenge for Musenvi, “who came to power following an armed uprising in 1986, and will expose him to electoral defeat,” the news agency said. .

Although Alaska has escaped a fate as Uganda suffers, in 2020 Governor Walker and Keith Meyer formed a new company to attempt to take over AGDC’s Alaska Gasline project and move it forward, presumably with a Chinese funding. At that time, AGDC was under new management and was not interested.

Now Walker is running for governor again.