Can China Seize Kenya’s Port?

Can China Seize Kenya’s Port?
Deborah Brautigam, Laure Deron, Vijay Bhalaki, and Yinxuan Wang

New Working Paper Launch
Can China Seize Kenya’s Port?
Thursday | April 14th | 9 AM (EDT)

In December 2018, a leaked letter from Kenya's Auditor General warned that the Kenya Ports Authority's assets - of which Mombasa Port is the most valuable - risked being taken over by China Eximbank if Kenya defaulted on the Standard Gauge Railway loans. The rumor that Kenya had used Mombasa Port as collateral for the railway became widely accepted globally as another example of "Chinese debt-trap diplomacy." 

In Working Paper 52, "How Africa Borrows From China, and Why Mombasa Port is Not Collateral for Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway," Deborah Brautigam, Laure Deron, Vijay Bhalaki, and Yinxuan Wang unpack this case using tools of international contract law and commercial project finance. Their detailed forensic analysis shows why the rumor is wrong. Rather than a deliberate debt trap, the railway project was carefully and creatively designed to reduce the risks of sovereign default and enhance the bankability of an infrastructure project with high costs but significant long-term benefits for Kenya and the region. The working paper will be published on the SAIS-CARI website on April 14th, 2022. 

Join us on Thursday, April 14th, 9 - 10:15 AM (EDT), for a discussion of this latest research on Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway, how China Eximbank lends to large BRI infrastructure projects, and why Africans borrow from China. 

The event will be held virtually on Zoom and will be recorded. Registration is required for attendance.

Event Registration

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Thursday, April 14th, 9 - 10:15 AM (EDT), 2022

Johns Hopkins SAIS Online Event