Project ID: 30384

China Eximbank provides RMB 443.1 million government concessional loan for Phase 2 of NOFBI and E-Government Expansion Project (Linked to Project ID#47014)

Commitment amount

$ 82483365.15353926

Adjusted commitment amount

$ 82483365.15

Constant 2021 USD


Funding agency [Type]

Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) [State-owned Policy Bank]




Communications (Code: 220)

Flow type


Level of public liability

Central government debt

Financial distress






Development (The next section lists the possible statuses.)





Financial Flow Classification

ODA-like (The next section lists the possible statuses.)

Official Development Assistance

Other Official Flows

Vague (Official Finance)

Flows categorized based on OECD-DAC guidelines

Project lifecycle


Implementation (The next section lists the possible statuses.)










Planned start


Actual start


Planned complete


NOTE: Red circles denote delays between planned and actual dates


On October 8, 2012, China Eximbank and the Government of Kenya signed an RMB 460,000,000 ($72,500,000) government concessional loan (GCL) agreement for Phase 2 of the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) and E-Government Expansion Project. The face value of the loan was subsequently revised to RMB 443,187,554.60. The borrowing terms of the GCL, which is captured via Project ID#30384, were as follows: a 2% interest rate, a 6.5 year grace period, and a 20.5 year maturity. This loan was scheduled for repayment in semi-annual installments beginning on March 21, 2019 and ending on March 21, 2033. The borrower made principal repayments worth RMB 16,812,445.00 between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 (Fiscal Year 2020-2021) and RMB 33,624,890.00 between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 (Fiscal Year 2021-2022). The loan’s amount outstanding was RMB 420,311,135.06 as of June 30, 2020, RMB 386,686,244.25 as of June 30, 2021, and RMB 353,061,353.45 as of June 30, 2022. On May 19, 2016, China Eximbank and the Government of Kenya signed a supplemental GCL agreement worth RMB 650 million ($98,650,000) for the same project. This GCL, which is captured via Project ID#47014, carried a 19.6-year maturity (final maturity date: September 21, 2035) and a 2% interest rate. Its grace period is unknown. The lender made disbursements worth RMB 55,884,448.34 between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 (Fiscal Year 2020-2021) and RMB 45,038,186.77 between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 (Fiscal Year 2021-2022). The loan’s amount outstanding was RMB 519,103,407.17 as of June 30, 2020, RMB 574,987,855.51 as of June 30, 2021, and RMB 620,026,042.28 as of June 30, 2022. The proceeds of both GCLs were to be used by the borrower to finance one or more commercial contracts with Huawei Technologies. Co. Ltd. The purpose of the project was to construct 2100 km of national optic fibre backbone infrastructure, which passes through eight major towns and 36 districts. Huawei Technologies. Co. Ltd is the general contractor responsible for project implementation. However, the Government of Kenya’s State Department is also implementing the project in conjunction with Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA). Construction began on September 22, 2014. According to the Kenyan Aid Management Platform, the NOFBI project was originally expected to reach completion by June 30, 2016. However, as of February 2021, the project was still not complete. There are some indications that the China Eximbank loans for Phase 2 of the NOFBI and E-Government Expansion Project have financially underperformed vis-a-vis the original expectations of the lender. According to a Kenyan government audit, ‘the NOFBI project network has been operational since 2014 and has been used by most of the data service providers in the [c]ountry. However, although the financing agreement [with China Eximbank] indicated that the Government [of Kenya] would sell out excess capacity commercially to the public and bill them to finance the loan repayments, there has been no billing done over the last five […] years it has been in operation. Further, the Service Provision Framework Agreement between the NOFBI Project Managers and the Internet Service Providers has not been implemented. The Government [of Kenya] has, therefore, been funding the operations of commercial entities without recovering the cost which amounts to lack of prudent use of public resources. In addition, no records have been provided detailing the users that have been connected to NOFBI for the last five […] years, their utilization levels, and the amount payable by each.' This project has also become a target of parliamentary scrutiny and controversy. On May 11, 2021, James Opiyo Wandayi, a member of the Kenyan parliament, said ‘[d]uring this financial year that we are reviewing, the case of National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) came to us. This is a project which, of course, was well intended, and I still believe it is well intended even as we speak. It is a project that has cost taxpayers a [whopping] Kshs21 billion and still counting. This is because the last phase of it is still under implementation. This is one project that was conceived and implemented in the most opaque manner and in blatant disregard of the existing laws. If you look at the first phase of this project, it cost taxpayers Kshs4.2 billion. For those who do not know, this is the project that was supposed to enhance internet connectivity across the country. It was supposed to lay down the trunks, infrastructure, and highways for internet from Nairobi to the countryside. The first phase of this project cost taxpayers Kshs4.2 billion and it was, indeed, fully funded by the Government of Kenya. There was some attempt to undertake an open tendering process and, as a result of this, three companies were contracted. These were Huawei, a company from China and two other local companies. They were contracted to undertake that project. However, when that project entered the second phase, which cost taxpayers Kshs7.2 billion, there is no evidence how the company that was eventually contracted was ever contracted. There was no evidence how that company came on board. We have laboured through and through to find out how that company came on board. Incidentally, the same company did the first phase - that is Huawei Technologies. We were at pains to understand how a contract of Kshs7.2 billion could have been awarded to a company on the basis of nothing really. There was no open tendering, no direct procurement as we know it under the law, and there was no restricted tendering. They were citing some nebulous terminology of government-to-government tendering procurement process, which is not known in any law. Moreover, it is an issue that is still left pending. However, even more seriously, the same company was awarded another contract to implement the third phase of this project, now at a [whopping] Kshs9.8 billion. This is what they are calling Phase 2 expansion of the NOFBI Project. Still, we are unable to find out how that company was awarded that contract and how it was procured. Indeed, for both Phase 2 and Phase 2 expansion of this project, the company that was awarded the contract was unable to produce even a letter of award. We struggled to get the letter of award that was given to the company. We could not lay our hands on any. Nobody was willing to go on record that they are responsible for the procurement of this company. Therefore, that is just one example. However, just to conclude on that particular aspect of NOFBI Project, there was the matter of revenues that would then be generated from this project, especially Phase 1 which was completed. There was some [loose] agreement that was purportedly entered into between the Information, Communication and Technology Ministry and Telkom Kenya that would allow Telkom Kenya to be collecting revenue as it carries out maintenance on the infrastructure. However, the profits that would be realised would then be channeled to an escrow account, which would then help the country and the public to pay back the loans that were procured from China. As we speak, eight or so years down the line, no single cent has been deposited in the escrow account. It therefore means that the public is going to continue to carry this burden of the debt from other sources and yet, there is money that is being generated from that project. This is because we know - and there was evidence - that Telkom Kenya was charging the commercial data service providers such as Safaricom, Orange and many others. Therefore, when Telkom Kenya came before us, they were not shy. They just told us: “It is true we have been collecting money.” Indeed, they admitted that they had by that time collected up to about Kshs1.7 billion. However, they were not going to remit anything to the Government of Kenya on account of the fact that the costs they had incurred in maintaining this infrastructure was more than what they had collected. However, there was no independent authority or entity that had audited their accounts with regard to this revenue collection from the NOFBI infrastructure.’

Additional details

1. This project is also known as the Kenya National Fibre Backbone Infrastructure II (NOFBI II ) Expansion Project. The Chinese project title is 肯尼亚国家光纤宽带基础设施项目. 2. In the database of Chinese loan commitments that SAIS-CARI released in July 2020, it does not record the borrowing terms of the RMB 650 million loan. AidData records the borrowing terms that are identified in the National Treasury’s public debt register. 3. AidData has identified both GCLs as collateralized because the borrower was required, under the terms of an escrow account agreement [Sections and (2)], to (a) maintain a minimum cash balance of RMB 22,200,000 in an escrow (debt service) account for one GCL until March 2020; and (b) maintain a minimum cash balance of RMB 57,600,000 in an escrow (debt service) account for another GCL after March 2020. According to a 2020 government audit, the escrow account balance as of June 2020 was KES 366,309,916. 4. The loan identification numbers in the National Treasury’s public debt register are 2012027 and 2016048. 5. The amounts outstanding and repayments data are drawn from the Kenyan Treasury’s External Public Debt Register. See and and and and and and and and

Number of official sources


Number of total sources


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Direct receiving agencies [Type]

Government of Kenya [Government Agency]

Implementing agencies [Type]

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. [Private Sector]


Minimum cash balance in an escrow account acceptable to the lender.

Loan Details


21 years

Interest rate


Grace period

7 years

Grant element (OECD Grant-Equiv)


Bilateral loan

Government Concessional Loan

Investment project loan