Authorities from China and Uganda disputed claims that Beijing is planning to take possession of Uganda’s Entebbe Airport Terminal if the Ugandan government fails to pay Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) financing.
The Famous Airport is in Question
Uganda’s only airport terminal is in Entebbe. Israeli soldiers rescued a large number of passengers from an airplane hijacked by Palestinian militants and redirected to Entebbe in 1976; then, the infrastructure became recognized around the world.
Last week, several African news outlets reported Ugandan authorities were desperately trying to renegotiate “toxic provisions” in a massive 2015 loan from a Chinese financial institution.
This would enable the Chinese government to take the airport, as well as potentially other Ugandan government assets, if the loan was defaulted on. Similar terms have been detected in loans made by China’s BRI infrastructure plan with other developing countries.
— NTV Kenya (@ntvkenya) November 26, 2021
As per reports from last week, a delegation of Ugandan authorities rushed to Beijing in a last-ditch effort to restructure the credit, but China’s Export-Import Bank turned them down.
Owing to the coronavirus outbreak and other problems, some of Uganda’s major BRI projects have indeed been postponed. Ugandan officials have openly refused China’s requests for mining and oil resources as security for more loans to complete the work.
According to certain reports from last week, China already assumed charge of the Entebbe airfield and other public resources. Behind the scenes, the Ugandan administration was believed to be in disarray.
Officials were blaming one another for irresponsibly surrendering sovereign immunity in order to utilize priceless assets like the Entebbe airfield as collateral for the loan.
On Sunday, the Chinese consulate in Uganda denied the accusations. Chinese official media denounced them as “devious conjecture” meant to sour relations between China and its BRI partners.
China Lies Blatantly
“China never seized” an African project as it couldn’t return its debt. China, on the other hand, “strongly supports and is interested in continuing to take steps to enhance Africa’s potential for self-development,” according to a Chinese embassy spokeswoman.
China to take over Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport for default on debt repayment.
China has rejected Uganda's request to re-negotiate toxic clauses in the $200m loan picked six years ago for the Airport expansion.
The Airport is the only Intl Airport in the country. pic.twitter.com/EXkYwFBG6y
— Tanzania Updates (@TanzaniaUpdates) November 26, 2021
“The partnership between China and Uganda is always guided by the values of openness, honesty, fairness, and mutual benefit. All financing arrangements, such as the Entebbe Airport restoration and extension plan, are negotiated and signed willingly by both sides.”
“There are no secret terms or political developments,” the official stated emphatically. Ugandan authorities have also refuted the reports, claiming the country’s Belt and Road debts are not in danger of defaulting.
“It is completely false that Uganda will lose Entebbe Airport Terminal in any form. This isn’t the first time this accusation has been made. Uganda is not about to fail on its debt repayments.
“We’re still within a seven-year time limit, and we’ve been paying the interest during that time,” the Uganda Airport Authority told Voice of American News (VOA) on Monday.