Kenya, Angola and Ethiopia top the list of sub-Saharan African countries holding the largest debt from China according to a new report by rating agency Moody’s.
Nairobi holds seven percent of the debt while Angola leads the pack with 30 percent, with Ethiopia coming second with 10 percent.
The three countries received nearly half of all Chinese investment on the continent in the 18 years to 2017.
As at the end of June this year, China was the largest bilateral lender to Kenya but was second overall as the World Bank came top among both multilateral and bilateral lenders.
“Angola (30 percent), Ethiopia (10 percent) and Kenya (seven percent) received almost half of all Chinese investment on the continent between 2000 and 2017,” said Moody’s.
Other major recipients included the Republic of Congo and Sudan, with each receiving around five percent, followed by Cameroon and Zambia at around four percent.
“Lending to African countries by Chinese entities increased to more than $10 billion annually between 2012 and 2017, from less than $1 billion in 2002,” said the report.
The agency noted that rising lending by Chinese state-owned banks or by the Chinese government itself had complemented growth in private Chinese investment in recent years along with closer trade ties.
Relative to the size of the economies, Chinese lending was largest to Congo, Ethiopia and Angola.
The rating agency said that an increase in China's lending based on announced commitments, or even maintaining the current pace of lending, should go some way towards addressing the continent's $67.5-$107.5 billion annual gap between its infrastructure investment needs and committed financing.
China is coming under increased scrutiny for unchecked lending to Africa.