Nairobi City Centre
A Reuters investigation reveals that Chinese hackers attacked Kenyan ministries and state agencies between 2019 and 2022 to assess debt owed to Beijing.
Reuters stated on Wednesday that the attacks on the state agencies started in 2019 when the Chinese started closing credit taps to Kenya. The security breach was initiated when a state employee downloaded an infected document unknowingly. The attack targeted the office of the President and other ministries including the Foreign and finance ministries.
As of March 2021, Kenya's debt to China stood at $6.31 billion, the lowest figure since March 2019. The smallest volume is attributed to Beijing’s conservative approach to lending to Africa in the post-Covid period on account that the continent was caught up in debt tripwires in the wake of a global economic depression. Defaults by countries like Angola, Ethiopia and Zambia prompted China to slow down investments in the region.
This development comes after President William Ruto affirmed that his administration will cut down on excessive borrowing from countries like China. The majority of Kenya's borrowing from China came through Exim Bank, which won the deal to fund the $3.6 billion, 485-kilometre Mombasa-Nairobi SGR line. Currently, Beijing remains Kenya's largest bilateral lender.
According to reports, Beijing's loans usually demand developing countries to prioritize their repayment ahead of other creditors. In a statement, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u disclosed that the amount repaid to Chinese lenders increased by 46.19 % when compared to the previous financial year.