China announces US$20bn loan to Africa
BEIJING–The Chinese government has pledged US$20 billion in concessional loans to African countries within the next three years to assist in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The credit line is double the amount offered in 2009 at the last forum held in Egypt.
The announcement was made, yesterday, by Chinese President Hu Jintao while opening the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held at Great Hall of the people in Beijing, China.
“In the next three years, the Chinese government will take measures in the five priority areas to support the cause of peace and development in Africa and boost a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership,” said Jintao.
The areas include peace and security, medical and health cooperation, agricultural technology, capacity building and African integration process.
The high level forum was graced by six African heads of state from South Africa, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Djibouti, Niger including the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Dozens of Foreign ministers from 50 African countries also attended the conference which has also attracted the Prime Ministers of Kenya and Cape Verde.
“I am confident with our efforts, the China-Africa cooperation will embrace the bright future for our people from both sides,” noted Jintao.
The Chinese President emphasised for more China-Africa coordination in international affairs to defend against the ‘‘bullying’’ of richer powers.
He said that his government will expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa based on mutual trust and strong coordination.
“We should make FOCAC strong by motivating members and make it more effective platform to achieve sustainable development,” He asserted.
The meeting that follows the last one held in 2009 at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will also focus on reviewing the implementation of follow-up activities from the previous conference.
In 2011, trade between Africa and China increased to $166.3 billion with African exports to China shooting to more than $93 billion.
Speaking to The New Times John Rwangombwa, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said that, the China-Africa cooperation will increase investment in Africa through soft loans.
“Rwanda has benefited a lot from this programme, through infrastructural development financing, for stance, the famous Kigali roads and the foreign Affairs ministry building, among others,” he said,
“We are exploring investment prospects with the Chinese companies and FACOC is a platform that will enable us to realise our goals.”
Last year, Rwanda and China signed six economic and technical cooperation agreements during a visit by Chinese International Trade Representative and Deputy Minister of Commerce, Gao Hucheng to Rwanda.
The pact included two financial agreements of Yuan 50m (approx Rwf4.6bn) grant to finance the projects agreed upon by both governments and another Yuan 50m, a five-year interest-free loan.
Speaking at the meeting, Ki-moon hailed the cooperation which he said was promoting economic and social development in Africa.
“UN is firmly committed to support this cooperation and I encourage you to continue with these efforts to achieve sustainable development,” he said.
The UN Secretary General called upon China and Africa to focus on poverty reduction and sustainable development in their ties to achieve Millennium Development Goals.
According to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, the African nations have registered tremendous developments through this cooperation.
“However Africa still faces major challenges in the areas of ICTs, Energy and Infrastructure, we call upon China to help us in addressing these concerns,” stated Zuma who is the current Co-Chair of FACOC.
The FOCAC is a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries launched in 2000.
The previous four ministerial conferences were held in Egypt, Beijing, Addis Ababa and Beijing, respectively.
Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw