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by Ismail Akwei, at 04:00 pm, October 09, 2018, News

Sierra Leone rejects $318m Chinese airport project launched in March

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio with Chinese President Xi Jinping

The Sierra Leonean government has cancelled all contracts with a Chinese construction firm that was tasked to build a new $318 million airport facility in March expected to be completed in 2022.

The project, launched by the former president Ernest Bai Koroma, was to complement the planned construction of a new city and an exclusive economic zone, local media report.

The aviation ministry is reported to have said in a letter that it was “uneconomical to proceed with the construction of a new airport when the existing one is grossly underutilized”.

President Julius Maada Bio is reported to have lost interest in the planned Mamamah International Airport to be constructed by the China Railway Seventh Group as part of his new direction of clearing the country’s debt incurred by his predecessor.

After he was sworn into office, Maada Bio appealed to the IMF to resume implementation of the country’s Extended Credit Facility Programme aimed at restoring economic stability as Sierra Leone was drowning in an external debt of $2 billion and domestic debt is 4.9 trillion Leones ($587 million).

China has launched a global mission to infiltrate the economies of nations by offering loans and infrastructural development projects in exchange for local markets and raw materials.

Africa is one of the main targets of China which has assisted the continent with $60 billion in 2015, and in 2018, another $60 billion and a clean up of the debt maturing by this year of its LDCs, highly indebted, landlocked and Small Islands States.

These form part of the eight new initiatives announced at the Forum for Africa-China Cooperation, FOCAC, in Beijing in September. China also launched an initiative to promote non-resources-based China imports from Africa and a $5 billion special fund to accelerate such efforts.

It was recently reported that Zambia was on the verge of losing its electricity company ZESCO to China after defaulting on loan repayment. The report further indicated that the national broadcaster ZNBC was already being run by the Chinese. The government denied the allegations and vowed to take legal action.

While many Africans fear a complete take over of their economies by China, the United States, Europe and other Asian giants are also afraid of losing the rich African continent to the Chinese.

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