Chinese lenders, the Export-Import Bank of China, also known as Exim Bank, has taken over the Ugandan Entebbe International Airport and other assets in the country over the failure of the Ugandan government to repay a loan.
This came despite reports that President Yoweri Museveni had sent a delegation to Beijing for a renegotiation with the Chinese government over toxic clauses that exposed the East African country.
On Tuesday, 17 November 2015, the Uganda government signed an agreement with Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) to borrow $207 million at two per cent upon disbursement. The loan had a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period.
It has now emerged that the deal signed with the Chinese lenders virtually means Uganda “surrendered” its most prominent and only international airport. The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) says some provisions in the Financing Agreement with China expose Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets to be attached and taken over by Chinese lenders upon arbitration in Beijing.
It also emerged that China has rejected recent pleas by Uganda to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the 2015 loan, leaving Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s administration in limbo.
According to the Daily Monitor, the Ugandan government waived international immunity in the agreement it signed to secure the loans, exposing Entebbe International Airport to take over without international protection. Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s only international airport and handles over 1.9 million passengers per year. Its seizure by China would greatly dent the legacy of the 77-year-old Museveni, who came to power on the back of an armed uprising in 1986, and expose him to election defeat.