China waives a year’s worth of Cameroon debt

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YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon

China says it has written off almost $78m (£60m) from Cameroon’s debt as part of measures to ease economic hardship in the central African nation.

The announcement was made shortly after a meeting between President Paul Biya and Yang Jiechi, a special representative of China’s President Xi Jinping.

According to figures from the Autonomous Sinking Fund, the public entity that manages Cameroon’s external debt, the central African country’s debt burden to China stands at almost $5.7bn (£4.4bn)

Cameroon was expected to clear a sum of $78m in 2018.

During the third Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation in September 2018, President Biya pleaded with Chinese authorities to ease Cameroon’s debt burden.

But, Cameroonian economist Ariel Gnitedem says the amount cancelled looks paltry in comparison with the total debt. He warns that the move could actually be for China’s long-term benefit.

“China wants to control the sub-regional market and Cameroon is the gateway. It is possible they also want a greater share in the enormous natural resources in Cameroon which are essential to feed its home industries.” He stressed.

Cameroon has been contracting loans from China for infrastructural developments such as Hospitals, Schools, Road, Dams and many more.