DODOMA, 8 January 2021 – Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday appealed to China to forgive part of Tanzania’s bilateral debt.

The Tanzanian leader did not say the total amount in debt his country is seeking forgiveness for from China.

Railway Line in Tanzania Built as Part of the China-supporter One Belt One Road Strategy

Tanzania Rail, Part of China-Supported One Belt One Road Strategy – Photo Courtesy of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Magufuli has made similar appeals to other creditors.

Last April, he urged the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to cancel the debts of African countries, arguing that debt forgiveness would create the fiscal space African countries need to fight the new coronavirus pandemic and to restore economic growth from pandemic-induced crises.

One of the debts Magufuli asked China to forgive was incurred 50 years ago for the construction of a railway line connecting Tanzania to landlocked neighboring Zambia.

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Line

Tanzania-Zambia Railway Line – Source: The Heritage Portal

Magufuli said Thursday that he had made the request to the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, even as the two attended the signing of another debt deal by Tanzania with China for the refurbishing (at a cost of $1.32 billion) of 341 kilometers of railway by two Chinese firms.

The bulk of over $12 billion in debt incurred by Tanzania to refurbish its railway infrastructure has originated from China.

Last year Magufuli said Tanzania spends 700 billion Tanzanian shillings (about $300 million) every month to service its debt, with 200 billion Tanzanian shillings (about $75 million) going each month to the World Bank.

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