Analysts had wondered if the pace of Chinese investment in Africa would slow, particularly in infrastructure projects, because of the slowing growth of the Chinese economy.
The announcement, however, seems to indicate that China’s commitment to the continent will continue, and it will be focused on 10 projects over the next three years.
“African affairs to the African people”
China has been criticized on the continent for bringing in Chinese state-owned firms and Chinese workers to complete projects.
In his keynote speech at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), currently underway in Johannesburg, South Africa, Xi Liping has also given the pledge a clearer context: “China strongly believes that Africa belongs to the African people and that African affairs should be handled by the African people,” he said.
The package — which is almost twice as large as the $30 billion worth of funding announced in 2012, will cover several key areas including agriculture, renewable energy, skills training, health, peace and security and infrastructure development.
Comrades in arms
Early in his speech, Xi noted that China and Africa were “comrades in arms in the quest for liberation and freedom, at the height of colonialism and apartheid.”
Therefore, he continued, “it was only natural that Africa has developed a win-win partnership for development and progress with China over the years.”
The program includes $5 billion of free aid and interest-free loans, $35 billion of preferential loans and export credit and $5 billion dollars of additional capital for the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs, and $10 billion of funding for a China-Africa production capacity cooperation.
China has been Africa’s largest trade partner for six years in a row, and the relationship has topped $222 billion last year.
“China-Africa relations have today reached a stage of growth unmatched in history,” Xi said.
“Let’s join hands… and open a new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development.”
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