The Prime Minister of Djibouti, Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, spoke publicly on December 17 as part of the growing local and international debate on China’s role in the Horn of Africa, defining Beijing as “an actor like any other” in the country.
The speech is part of the growing debate on China’s role in Djibouti, and in particular on the construction of a major naval base and the status of the debt incurred by the small African country.
Djibouti owes China, in fact, 1.2 billion dollars, which, especially according to the United States, not only exposes the country to a major financial risk, but above all forces Djibouti to accept the terms of an increasingly invasive Chinese presence in both the civilian and military sectors.
The United States, which is also present in Djibouti with its own base and has always been critical of the openings made to China in terms of both industrial and military investments, insists on underlining the danger of the country’s debt exposure to Beijing, citing the examples of Sri Lanka, the Maldives and, more recently, Uganda, which risks losing control of its international airport in Entebbe.
Washington’s fears are mainly related to the cargo port of Doraleh and the surrounding areas where foreign military bases have been developed, which could be subject to financial compensation to the benefit of Beijing should the Djibouti government encounter difficulties in its ability to sustain its financial commitments with China.
The intervention of Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed was therefore inserted in this debate, trying to reassure the United States and other countries involved in Djibouti’s economic and military activities, presenting China’s role in a less invasive perspective, equal in comparison with other investors, and, above all, minimizing its risk.