Briefing: China funds $666 million tech city, highway in Kenya

Kenya secures $666 million from China for tech city, highway – Reuters

What happened: China is funding a data center in a tech city outside Kenya’s capital of Nairobi as well as a highway linking the capital with its airport. The $666 million deal consists of low-interest loans and partnerships with private companies. The data center will be developed in Konza, a tech city an hour’s drive from Nairobi, by Chinese telecom firm Huawei, according to a statement from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is in Beijing attending a forum for President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Why it’s important: Kenya has over the past few years looked to China to provide funding and technology for infrastructure projects that it hopes will fuel the country’s development. This includes a controversial railway linking the coastal city of Mombasa with Nairobi. Critics worry that Kenya is putting its future generations at risk of burying itself in debt by borrowing from China. There are also concerns over what may happen if countries that take out loans from China default on their debts, a criticism that western leaders have voiced about many of Xi’s BRI projects. The Kenyan government has brushed off this unease, saying that building better infrastructure will stimulate economic growth.