President Uhuru Kenyatta is questioning why Kenya’s debt critics only focus on debt owed to China while there are other states that have lent money to the country.
Mr Kenyatta says Kenya has a “healthy mix of debt” because the country’s lenders are not only China but also Japan, United States, and many others.
The president made the remarks in an interview with CNN‘s Richard Quest that was recorded last Friday and aired on Monday night.
Mr Quest was probing the president on whether he is weary of China’s “another agenda” in the loans it is giving to African states.
“Why are we focusing ourselves only on one lender?” Mr Kenyatta asked.
“As far as I am concerned, we have a very healthy mix of debt from the multilateral lenders — who are basically the World Bank and the African Development Bank — to bilateral lenders like Japan, China, France, all who are participating and working with us to help us achieve our objectives,” added Mr Kenyatta.
On the question of China’s intentions, he replied: “We have an infrastructure gap that we need to fill and we are going to work with our partners across the globe who are willing to partner and to work with us.”
The president noted that Japan is the biggest lender to Kenya’s port projects while France is a major funder of electricity generation projects.
He also insisted that Kenya’s high ratio of debt against the gross domestic product (GDP) does not bother him.
“What would worry me is if the debt that we have incurred has gone into recurrent expenditure, has gone into paying salaries or electricity bills and so on and so forth. But what we have utilised our debt for is to close the infrastructure gap,” he said.
Mr Quest also wanted to know whether Mr Kenyatta would be interested in having a review of the Constitution so he can serve for a third term.
“I’m not interested in a third term,” Mr Kenyatta replied.
He also disclosed that his “handshake” pact with ODM leader Raila Odinga was towards bringing an end to the animosity that engulfs Kenya every time an election is nearing.
“We’ve said, ‘Look, we don’t have to always agree on everything. But we can agree on things Kenya, and we can agree that this issue of cyclical elections has to come to an end,'” said Mr Kenyatta.