Uganda loses its only international airport to China for failing to repay loan

Nov 28, 2021: According to a report published in India Today, Uganda has lost its only international airport, the Entebbe International Airport, to China for failing to repay a loan, as initially reported by African media.

The government has failed to reverse a loan agreement with China which had repayment conditions for attaching its only airport.

In 2015, China’s Export-Import Bank (EXIM) lent $207 million to Uganda at a rate of 2%. NewsX reported that the loan, for the expansion of Entebbe Airport, came with a maturity period of 20 years, including a seven-year grace period. However, according to international media reports, the Ugandan government lifted the international exemption clause for obtaining a loan, after which the Chinese lender could recapture Entebbe International Airport without any international mediation.

A statement from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) reportedly suggested that some provisions in the Financing Agreement with China exposed Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets to be attached and taken over by Chinese lenders upon arbitration in Beijing.

Last week, Ugandan Finance Minister Matia Kasaija had apologised to Parliament for “mishandling” the multi-million dollar loan.

According to the latest media reports, a delegation of Ugandan officials also visited China earlier this year to discuss the terms of the loan agreement. However, the visit failed because Chinese authorities refused to allow any changes to the terms of the agreement.

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