Borrowing on our own terms

20 May 2020 | Opinion

They say beggars can’t be choosers, but in the context of a developmental state such as Namibia, where government plays the leading role in promoting industrialisation, the meaning of this phrase must be redefined.

Often, development aid, such as the loan facility being extended to Namibia by China to upgrade Hosea Kutako International Airport, is seen as aid in the true sense of the word, when it is actually a strict business transaction.

The fact that China has been dangling this tempting loan offer in the face of our broke government is because the Asian giant means business.

While the lender traditionally coins the terms of their loan facility, the world is heading towards a place where such agreements must give both parties equal powers of input.

If China is indeed our ‘all-weather friend’, to borrow from the vocabulary of Namibian political sloganeers, they must be amenable to suggestions from Namibia on how the loan deal can be structured.

Because the lender and the borrower need each other in equal measure, no one side must have the overarching power to dictate all the terms of what is clearly a mutually-beneficial arrangement.

The problem of perceived dominant China’s encroachment on Africa is not the Asian giant’s fault but Africa’s.

Africans go to the negotiation table trembling like puppies that endured rain in a cold season. This breed of coward political leaders and technocrats are China’s new favourite persons – for obvious reasons.

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