Uganda is on the verge of losing its only international airport, the Entebbe International Airport, to China after a debt agreement with the Asian country expired on November 17.
The Ugandan government had in 2015, signed an agreement with Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) to borrow $207 million at two per cent upon disbursement, with a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period.
And with a failure to pay back the loan, it has emerged that the deal signed with the Chinese lenders virtually means Uganda will surrender its most prominent and only international airport.
A statement on Friday by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), says “some provisions in the Financing Agreement with China exposed the 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.
A discrete investigation carried out by a media outfit into the deal has also revealed that the Ugandan government had waived international immunity in the agreement it signed to secure the loans, exposing the Entebbe International Airport to take over without international protection.
“The Ugandan government had, in March, sent a delegation to Beijing hoping to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the deal but the officials came back empty-handed as China would not allow the terms of the original deal to be varied.
“Last week, Uganda’s Finance Minister Matia Kasaija apologized to parliament for the mishandling of the $207 million loan from the China Exim Bank to expand Entebbe International Airport,” the report said.
The Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s only international airport and handles over 1.9 million passengers per year.