The trade volume between China and Africa has grown from 10 billion U.S. dollars to 100 billion U.S. dollars in less than eight years.
Time always goes like lightning. It has been three years since I have worked as the Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda. As a sincere friend of the Rwandan people, my mission here is to consolidate traditional friendship and promote pragmatic cooperation.
In the past three years, I devoted myself to push forward the relations and cooperation of our two countries. At the time my mission’s completion, I will look back at the three years and feel very gratified to find that with the joint efforts of both China and Rwanda, our bilateral relationship has been pushed forward to a new height: Under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), we have enhanced political mutual trust and promoted pragmatic and all-round cooperation.
Many may not know about FOCAC, but it’s now the most important platform for China-Africa Cooperation: The year 2010 is the 10th anniversary of FOCAC. In October 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was founded by the joint initiatives of African countries and China.
Gathering China—the largest developing country in the world and Africa—the continent boosting the greatest number of developing countries, the FOCAC is a new mechanism of the developing countries to strengthen unity and cooperation, and work together in addressing challenges under this new situation.
Over the years, China has provided assistance to the best of its ability to African countries without any political strings attached. “Political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges” is the new type of strategic partnership that China aims to form with Rwanda.
Driven by the FOCAC, the pragmatic cooperation centering on trade and economy has been widened and deepened. The trade volume between China and Africa has grown from 10 billion U.S. dollars to 100 billion U.S. dollars in less than 8 years. China’s investment in Africa has witnessed sharp growth, as Africa has become its fourth largest overseas investment destination.
To encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa, China-Africa development fund has been set up and China provided preferential loans and buyer’s credits to African countries.
As an old Chinese saying, “It is better to teach one how to fish than just to give him fish.” China is dedicated towards improving Africa’s capability of self-development and put forward aid initiatives with consideration to the actual needs of the African countries.
For example, China has trained 15,000 African professionals, sent 100 senior agricultural experts, set up 10 special agricultural technology demonstration centers, build 30 hospitals in Africa, dispatched over 300 youth volunteers and built 100 schools in Africa, among others. All these measure are aimed at the same goal of improving the capacity of African countries for self-driven and sustainable development.
It’s under the framework of FOCAC that the cooperation between China and Rwanda can achieve such a quick development. The cooperation on trade and economy has been deepened, with the trade volume having reached more than 100 million U.S. dollars in 2009, a rise of 6.4 percent compared to 2008. To further open up China’s market to Rwanda, over 4000 export items to China have received zero-tariff treatment.
The Joint Committee on economic, technical and trade cooperation between China and Rwanda has been founded and its first meeting was held in Beijing, during which, Chinese and Rwandan experts got together to discuss the possibilities of improving cooperation on solar energy and hydroelectricity.
Infrastructural construction is China’s traditional way of supporting African countries, Rwanda inclusive. In Kigali, there are several roads and buildings “made by China”. In 2008, the MINAFFET office building was completed, equipped with office supplies and this has improved the working conditions of local officials.
China also focuses on the improvement of the Rwandan people’s health care, education, agriculture and other social development programmes. Chinese medical teams have worked in Rwanda for about 28 years to treat patients.
A new hospital in Masaka, Gasabo District is under construction. Two schools have been built, in the Eastern and Northern Provinces respectively. The construction of a new vocational school is also under negotiation. The Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center came to work in 2008 and the new building of the Center will soon be completed in the Southern Province.
Through using Rwanda’s natural resources, Chinese agricultural experts are sent to teach local technologists the technique of growing upland rice and bamboo, among other crops. As part of the Follow-up Actions of FOCAC Beijing Summit, those measures reflect that China attaches great importance to the well-being of the Rwandan people.
China always takes measures to encourage Chinese companies to “go global”.
Now there are more than 20 Chinese companies in Rwanda, involved in the fields of construction, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), service industry, tourism, mining and resources development. This year, the amount of contract projects that Chinese companies have signed has reached more than 12.4 billion U.S. dollars.
Rwandan people are familiar with Chinese companies like Road and Bridge and CCECC. The projects such as the Kigali Convention Center, the reconstruction of Kigali City roads and roads from Kigali to Ruhungeri draw much attention. Besides, Chinese companies are continually interested in investing in Rwanda, among which there are STAR TV, New Century Hotel, A-Link Chinese Club, etc.
Until now, Chinese companies have invested more than 17 million U.S. dollars in Rwanda. These projects help towards creating an even more beautiful and comfortable Rwanda, while at the same time creating more job opportunities for the local population.
Such initiatives have benefited Rwanda’s most needed areas, through focusing on the improvement of its self-development capacity and bringing real benefits to Rwandan people.
Therefore, the Chinese people cherish sincere friendship towards the Rwandan people, and China’s support to Rwanda is concrete and real. China and Rwanda, are partners, friends and also brothers.
I once heard of an African proverb which says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I believe that as long as China and Rwanda go hand in hand, our relations will for sure write a more brilliant chapter in the new Rwanda.
The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda.