Last December, the Daily Monitor in Uganda unleashed a firestorm with an article claiming that the Entebbe International Airport was in danger of being seized as collateral for an unpaid Chinese loan. The story was poorly-sourced and ill-informed (for example, the loan in question wasn’t out of its grace period, so there was no question of default.) Yet, the story garnered widespread attention around the world, not least in an equally shoddy Trevor Noah insert that took the so-called seizure as proof of Chinese debt-trap diplomacy.
This week, the research body AidData announced that they had obtained a full, unredacted version of the Entebbe Airport loan contract. In their report they point out that the contract never allowed the lender (China Exim Bank) to seize the airport. However, it was a very tough contract nonetheless, demanding that the Ugandan government maintain a cash deposit in an escrow account to be seized by the lender in the case of a default.
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