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|China has cancelled Rwanda’s $7.1-million loan used for building a road|
|By Alafati Mugabo 丨VOL. 15 March 2023 ·2023-02-24|
A section of the Masaka-Kabuga road (ALAFATI MUGABO)
Residents in the Masaka and Kabuga suburbs of Rwanda’s capital Kigali were happy to learn that the Chinese government has decided to cancel the debt used for the construction of a road in their locality.
China has cancelled the $7.1 million loan used to build the 6.36-km Masaka-Kabuga road under the Kigali Urban Road Upgrading Project in November 2022.
Many of the residents took to social media to express their joy and gratitude to the Chinese government. They said no other country in the world was as friendly to Rwanda as China.
“I cannot believe that now we will not have to pay for the beautiful road constructed by the Chinese experts in our area,” said Peter Nkundabagaya, a 40-year-old resident of Masaka.
“Some people think it’s the government that pays for the debts, but it’s actually us citizens who suffer when the government spends a lot. We are thankful to the Chinese because they’ve consistently supported our development as a country,” said Nkundabagaya.
“Before the construction of this road, we had to travel 10 km getting to Kabuga from Masaka, which are neighbouring towns; but with this road, the distance has been shortened to just 2 km,” Nkundabagaya revealed.
Kabuga resident Alice Uwamahoro told ChinAfrica that the road was “a major turning point in their lives” because it made it easy for her to transport her produce from fields to markets in Kigali.
“When we are using the old road, it took a long time to reach from Kabuga to the markets in Kigali where I sell my beans and maize, which hampered my business. During the rainy season, it was very challenging for us to transport our produce,” she said.
“I even did not know that the government had constructed the road with a Chinese loan; it was only recently when the news of the cancellation of the loan was released that we came to know about the loan for the first time,” said Uwamahoro.
She noted that the road has allowed the locals to expand their business, while relieving the government from the burden of paying back the loan.
Another resident Jean Bosco Uwimana said that with this road in place, it takes him only 20 minutes to go to Kigali by bus, 40 minutes less than what used to take.
“This road makes our movements easy. There was too much dust on the road, which was a health risk, but now we are breathing fresh air,” he said.
China and Rwanda have enjoyed healthy bilateral cooperation for years. This is evidenced by the substantial contribution of China to realising Rwanda’s development aspirations.
At signing of the loan cancellation agreement between the two countries in November 2022, Rwanda’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana said that the agreement cements the good relationship between the two nations.
Ndagijimana applauded the strong economic cooperation between the two countries, which has seen Rwanda benefit from China’s support in various sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, energy, education and health.
China’s Ambassador to Rwanda Wang Xuekun said in a statement that by offering this financial support, China hopes to contribute to Rwanda’s all-round transformation and recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the future, China will work with Rwanda for deeper practical cooperation in various fields under the Belt and Road Initiative framework to deliver more benefits to the two peoples,” Wang said.
The debt cancellation is part of the economic package announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Senegal in November 2021.
Furthermore, China’s then Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 18 August 2022 announced that “China will waive the 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had matured by the end of 2021.” This came after China had cancelled more than $3.4 billion in debt and restructured around $15 billion of debt to Africa between 2000 and 2019.
Reporting from Rwanda
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