Magufuli praises China's 'no strings attached aid' to Tanzania

28Nov 2018
By Financial Times Reporter
Financial Times
Magufuli praises China's 'no strings attached aid' to Tanzania

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has praised China's 'no strings attached' aid approach and criticised other unnamed development partners for imposing degrading conditions to the country in return for financial assistance.

PRESIDENT John Magufuli.

Magufuli made the remarks yesterday at the inauguration of an ultra-modern library built by Chinese aid money at the state-run University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

"If it were other (development partners), we would have been given strange conditions ... like being told to walk with our backs bending," the president said in a speech while launching the library.

"China is a true friend ... they have given this assistance to Tanzania from their own tax payers free of charge."

The ultra-modern university library and conference centrewas built at a cost of $40 million (over 92 billion Tanzanian shillings).

Magufuli'sremarks comeas several development partners recently announced plans to freeze or review their financial assistance programmesto Tanzania due to the government's various policies and concerns over governance, democracy and human rights.

The donors, including the European Union (EU), the World Bank and Denmark, have indicated that the release of future aid to Tanzania would be subject to several conditions.

This includes review of the government's various laws and policies towards homosexuals and free education for all.

The World Bank said it would not release a scheduled $300 million loan until Tanzania met some of its conditions against the expulsion of pregnant girls from public schools.

President Magufuli's government has been seeking big infrastructure loans from China to build part of the country's standard gauge railway (SGR) network.

Tanzania thus far owes China more than $2 billion, according to data from the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Washington’s Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

The data shows that Tanzania has taken loans worth $2.347 billion from China in the period between 2000 to 2017.

The Chinese loans represent about 15 per cent of the central government's total external debt stock, which stood at $15.8 billion by June this year, according to latest Bank of Tanzania (BoT) statistics.

The single biggest disbursement of Chinese loans to Tanzania was made in 2012, where the government received a $1.192 loan from Beijing.

In 2013, Tanzania received another loan of $589 million from China, followed by a credit line of $200m from the Asian giant in 2015, according to data on Chinese loans to African governments compiled by CARI.

In comparison, the biggest holders of Chinese debt in Africa include Angola ($42.8bn), Ethiopia ($13.7bn), Kenya ($9.8bn), Sudan ($6.49bn), Zambia ($6.37bn), Cameroon ($5.56bn), Nigeria ($4.8bn), South Africa ($3.78bn) and Ghana ($3.49bn).

China has come under sharp criticism over the past few months for its alleged “debt-trap diplomacy” in Africa.

As Beijing throws open its credit line to the continent, some analysts warn of the risk of a debt stranglehold.

China's cumulative loans to African governments and their state-owned enterprises (SOEs) since the year 2000 amounted to $143 billion by 2017.

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered another $60 billion in financing for Africa in September this year at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 held in Beijing, but warned against funds going towards “vanity projects”.