Kenyan Internet users are increasing collective appeals to the International Monetary Fund to convince it to stop granting loans to their country, which recently received two billion dollars.
As International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva took part in a live Facebook chat on April 22, Kenyan netizens flooded the chat with messages, calling on her to stop lending money to their country.
In early April, the IMF announced its intention to grant Kenya a new loan, this time for $2.34 billion under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Facility extended funding (FEP). This payment is supposed to help “meet the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerability,” says the Fund.
An idea that many Kenyans hardly seem to like. Their mobilization started with a petition demanding the cancellation of the loan in question.
Today, the text – which argues that “previous loans to the Kenyan government have not been used with caution and have often resulted in corruption scandals” – has more than 234,000 signatories.
A debt of two-thirds of GDP
As Kenyan journalist Waihiga Mwaura recalled in an article for the BBC in 2013, when the current Kenyan government took power, public debt stood at $16 billion, compared to around $70 billion today, or 65% of the national GDP.
Although infrastructure development can partly explain this progressive indebtedness, it is obvious that the country’s corruption is another cause. Currently, former Kenyan finance minister Henry Rotich is on trial for inflating a public works contract by more than $150 million.
In early 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta hinted that nearly $18 million is lost every day in his country due to corruption.
Which African countries are the most indebted?
Kenya is not, however, among the top 10 most indebted African countries unveiled by the IMF in February. Sudan dominates this ranking with a public debt equivalent to 207% of GDP, followed by Eritrea (165.1%) and Cape Verde (123.5%).
According to the Fund, French-speaking Africa is the least indebted part of the continent: only Mauritania and Congo are among the ten most indebted countries, 9th and 10th respectively, with debts of around 80% of GDP.