China is now the world’s largest single country creditor  and remains one of the largest bilateral lenders to African countries. African governments seem to prefer debt from China as compared to other lenders such as IMF and the World Bank. Notably, loan agreements between African countries and China have been shrouded with secrecy. This has in the past sparked debate, among Western countries and some African critics who argue that China is pursuing a strategy to deliberately indebt African countries with the end goal of controlling their major assets especially natural resources.

This brief seeks to provide a better understanding of Chinese lending in East Africa by utilizing new data on Chinese financing and investment on development projects in Africa which was made available to the public through the China Africa Research Initiative (SAIS-CARI) database.

The brief interrogates the volumes of Chinese debt, sectors financed by the loans and analyses the major Chinese financiers for five East African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The brief also peeks into the trends in trade relations between China and the East African countries.

This brief adds to existing body of knowledge on Chinese lending to African countries and provides useful insights that can inform advocacy for better public debt management and encourage public debate on debt sustainability in the region.

We hypothesize that the National Youth Service, regardless of its characterisation, is a duplication of public service that Kenyans can do without. To test this hypothesis, we examine budget data for FY2015/16 – specifically allocations to the National Youth Service and mirrors them with objectives, activities and allocations to other state departments and institutions. We argue that if state institutions effectively delivered on their man-dates, there would be little need for specific policy or institutions and resource allocations ring-fenced for the youth like in the case of the NYS. We also argue that allocations to the NYS and its programmes could be impinging on the mandates of some state institutions and encroaching on resources available to them sometimes limiting the efficiency and coverage of services delivered. We argue in conclusion that most of the activities for which Kshs24.9 billion was al-located to NYS to carry out in FY2015/16could be mainstreamed in the operations of state institutions to reduce waste of public resources (in duplicative programme administration, transaction and overhead costs) and achieve allocative efficiency and value for money.

This briefing explores the region’s development financing mix, analysing patterns in the flow of different streams of resources ranging from ODA, to FDI, migrant remittances, tax and other non-tax revenues and debt. It also includes an analysis of trends in budgeting; examining fiscal balance and financing of budget deficits. The analyses are intended to inform engagements and decisions taken by development partners, governments and other stakeholders in the region towards arriving at a suitable mix of development financing that can efficiently and sustainably drive the SDGs agenda in East Africa.

One of the arguments in favour of local governments is their ability to deliver public services better because of their proximity to demand. This is typically achieved through decentralisation – the transfer of some level of formal responsibility, authority and/or resources to smaller, lower tiers of government. This paper examines service delivery in the health sector in Kenya within the context of the country’s newly introduced devolved system of government, which created 47 county governments under the 2010 Constitution. It examines three key responsibilities: i) resource mobilisation, distribution and administration, ii) decision-making, and iii) political accountability, and their bearing on outcomes for delivery of health services. The paper argues that devolution of the health function in Kenya has been only partial, leading to challenges of coordination between the national and county governments and ambiguity over responsibility for service delivery; both factors which risk undermining the opportunities that devolution creates or promises.

To understand the implications of debt for tax justice in East Africa, Africa Centre for People Institutions and Society (Acepis) and East African Tax and Governance Network (EATGN) sought to explore the implications of debt unsustainability on four major issues in tax justice discourse: i) tax burden, ii) IFFs and harmful tax practices, iii) economic growth and resource redistribution, and iv) empowerment and inclusion of citizen voices in fiscal policy making. The research aimed to build on the existing body of literature by examining and framing the links that exists between increasing public debt stocks (and debt repayment obligations) and fiscal injustice in the East African region.