China-Africa summit could open for future investments, officials

Workers at C&H garment factory at the Kigali Economic Zone make outfits. File.

Earlier this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in the country and, among other engagements, was to invite Rwanda to take part in the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit to be held in Beijing this year.

Rwanda accepted the invitation to the forum, which is among the largest platforms convening 29 member countries of the South-South cooperation, established in 2000.

In an exclusive interview with Business Times, a Chinese official based in Kigali last week said that the preparations for the September summit were at an advanced stage.

Hudson Wang Jiaxin, the Counselor at China’s Economic and Commercial Department in Kigali, said that this year’s summit would present a platform to discuss future investments between China and Africa.

“FOCAC is a platform for China-Africa cooperation and for reciprocal dialogue with the idea to improve our socio-economic progress. This year’s summit is also the best platform to discuss future investments options and the strategies to achieve them,” he said.

The previous summit was held in South Africa during which China made commitments to invest in Africa. At the Johannesburg summit, a commitment of about USD60 billion was made, thrice the USD20 billion commitment made during the 2012 FOCAC Summit.

Wang noted that Rwanda has been receiving its share of the investment commitment and implementation over the past two years, most of which China had directed towards advancing the infrastructure sector.

“Over the past years, right after the FOCAC summit in Johannesburg, China has been providing large sums of money to Rwanda to help the country improve its infrastructural development in particular,” he said, highlighting that the oncoming summit is likely to maintain the trend of extending commercial loans, especially for infrastructure projects.

He, however, highlighted that China’s role in countries, including Rwanda, cannot only be measured on commitments made during FOCAC summits as the country’s private sector investments in Africa have been increasing.

Already, firms like C&H Garments from China have set up shop in the country. The firm,  which is currently based at the special economic zone, in Kigali, specialises in producing various kinds of clothing.

Just last year, barely two years after FOCAC summit in South Africa, another giant Chinese business and investment company, Huajian Group, entered a partnership with the Government to set up its base in Rwanda, which would see the firm start producing shoes, clothes, bags as well as electronic equipment.

“The summit is therefore a good way to materialize our promises,” he noted, adding that this year the economic partnership will be further elevated to a new high.

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced 10 comprehensive and ambitious plans covering industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, trade and investment, and public health, among others.

The implementation of the Chinese commitments in the past two years is indicative of the priority and pace of China’s engagement in Africa in 2018 if China is to complete them before the next FOCAC Summit.

Wang said that, by the end of the last year, at least two-thirds of the commitments made hadbeen accomplished, something he said would lead them to make more commitments.

This year, he said, the summit would also work as a catalyst to raise the interest of both China’s private sector and Africa’s private sector to boost trade exchanges.

 

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