EGYPT - President Paul Kagame yesterday addressed the opening ceremony of the fourth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Kagame is in North Africa to attend a summit with 50 African leaders as Beijing seeks to expand its diplomatic and economic influence on the resource-rich continent.
President Kagame in his capacity as Chairman of the East African Community said that the forum was an occasion for China and Africa to reflect together on the tremendous trade and investment opportunities available, and to take advantage of ongoing regional integration from which both China and Africa can benefit.
“I am happy to note that advancing regional integration benefits Africa as well as our Chinese partners given the size of the combined markets, growth and attractive economic returns,”
“In Rwanda and the East Africa region, we already see the impact of this collaboration, which has experienced a considerable boost since the last China-Africa summit in Beijing three years ago.”
Kagame said trade between East African countries and China had grown by over 200 percent from 2007 to the present. He said in Rwanda alone, business with China had quadrupled in the last four years,
“To harness the vast regional potential for commerce and investment, we have identified modern infrastructure projects to connect East Africa via road, rail and the internet among others. Partnership is key to advancing on this front,” the President told the summit.
“Projects such as the railway line connecting the port of Dar es Salaam to Rwanda, Burundi and DRC offers a strong and credible platform for collaboration between China and East African region within the FOCAC framework”. Kagame said.
Kagame called on African leaders, governments and especially members of the private sector to play a leading role in continuously engaging to articulate Africa’s development priorities in the partnership with China.
“First of all, the onus is on us as leaders, governments, and the private sector especially, to fully engage at every stage, and clearly articulate our development priorities in this partnership.”
“We have, here, an invaluable opportunity not only to further pursue trade relations that can transform the lives of millions – but also to redefine the way we do business for sustainable wealth creation on both sides of the transaction,” Kagame said.
Direct Chinese investment in Africa soared from US$ 491m in 2003 to US$ 7.8bn last year. Trade between the two has increased tenfold since the start of the decade.
The meeting is expected to approve the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration and action plan that consists of drawing up new programs of China-Africa cooperation in the next three years.
The meeting also aims to explore new proposals on Sino-African cooperation in areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, investment and trade and human resource development.
Currently, China maintains trade with all 53 African states.