China rolls out more initiatives, including $82b in financing, to help development of African countries

China has increasingly courted Africa, as it seeks out resources and new markets. Since the triennial forum began in 2000, China has extended about US$125 billion in loans to the continent.
China has increasingly courted Africa, as it seeks out resources and new markets. Since the triennial forum began in 2000, China has extended about US$125 billion in loans to the continent.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday (Sept 3) outlined a number of measures to help African nations, including a pledge to boost infrastructure connectivity and trade, providing agricultural assistance and extending another US$60 billion ($82.3 billion) in financing.

The measures were announced as these nations called for China to impart more technology and know-how to the continent.

Both South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, who is currently the African Union's rotating chair, said China and its firms should partner Africa's businesses and institutions and build their capabilities, adding that this was the most durable way to contribute to Africa's development.

Mr Xi and the African leaders were speaking at the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) at the Great Hall of the People.

In his keynote address to kick off the start of the two-day summit, Mr Xi said China was Africa's "good friend, good partner, and good brother", adding that the way to boost cooperation was for both sides to leverage their strengths and for China to complement Africa's development through its own growth.

China has increasingly courted Africa, as it seeks out resources and new markets. Since the triennial forum began in 2000, China has extended about US$125 billion in loans to the continent.

On Monday, Mr Xi pledged another US$60 billion in financing to African nations, one of the eight initiatives he announced in his speech.

This will take the form of government assistance, investment, grants and credit lines.

 
 
 
 

This latest sum is on top of the US$60 billion promised at the last Focac summit in 2015.

Other measures include increasing imports from Africa; improving infrastructure connectivity; encouraging Chinese firms to invest in the continent; and setting up workshops to train African workers.

Mr Xi also called on both sides to boost cooperation on major regional and international issues, and to "seize opportunities" created by their complementary development strategies and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Africa is a key part of the BRI, an ambitious plan mooted by Mr Xi to build infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and industrial hubs along land and sea trade routes from China to Africa and Europe.

Mr Kagame said that Africa wished to be a "full and integral" part of the BRI and that the African Union would be a focal point of the initiative going forward.

He added that building capacity of African institutions is what would make the "biggest difference" in Africa's development.

Mr Ramaphosa welcomed the initiatives announced by Mr Xi, noting that China was now a "major investor" in the continent.

But he also said that more local partnerships between Chinese and African businesses should be encouraged as the transfer of knowledge and technology will contribute to the development and sustainability of businesses and create new industries.

He noted that the current model of Africa exporting raw materials to China, and importing finished products from it, "limits the ability of African countries to extract the full value for their abundant natural resources and to create work for their people".

Platforms like Focac should be used to balance the structure of trade between Africa and China, he said.

Renmin University's Associate Professor Cui Shoujun said it was natural for African nations to look to China for capacity building, as their leaders have seen the Chinese economic model propel the country to become the world's second-largest economy.

Leaders from more than 50 African countries are in Beijing for Focac. Mr Xi and Mr Ramaphosa will chair a roundtable discussion on Tuesday (Sept 4), the last day of the forum.