Recent media reports on Kenya’s infrastructure financing trends have suggested that Japan has overtaken China in the “loans race.”

Factually, this is correct. For instance, according to The East African, fresh financial commitments from China to Kenya’s development projects fell nearly fourfold in seven years, placing China behind Japan as top bilateral lender to Kenya for the second year running. For the fiscal year 2022/2023, Kenya is projected to borrow just 29.46 billion Kenyan shillings ($254.9 million) from China, a sharp cutback from the high of 140 billion shillings in Kenya’s 2015/2016 budget. Meanwhile, Kenya is expected to borrow 31.11 billion shillings from Japan.

Is this a sign of things to come — perhaps a sign of China’s retreat on the African continent? Could Kenya be the first “win” for Japan and the Group of Seven's Build Back Better World (B3W) versus China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Africa?