KINSHASA (Reuters) – China has granted some debt relief to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help it weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the Congolese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
As a result, the Congo will not have to repay its interest-free loans from China which matured at the end of 2020. The ministry did not specify how much this amounted to.
China has provided more than $ 2 billion in debt relief to developing countries as part of the G20 aimed at giving those hit by the COVID-19 crisis a financial respite.
The latest deal was announced at a joint press conference in Kinshasa with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“As the Congo’s most trusted friend, China wishes to continue to make its contribution to the development of the Congo,” Wang said in the Congolese ministry’s statement.
According to data collected by the Johns Hopkins China Africa Research Initiative, Chinese entities granted 53 loans to the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2000 and 2018, for a total amount of $ 2.4 billion. Most of the loans have been concentrated in the electricity, transport and mining sectors.
The major producer of cobalt and copper has attracted billions of dollars in investment from Chinese miners in recent years.
Congo’s exports to China jumped 30% in 2020 from the previous year.
(Reporting by Stanis Bujakera, additional reporting by Karin Strohecker in London; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Bate Felix and Bernadette Baum)