Marking a major upgrade in China’s surging engagement with Africa, President Xi Jinping has announced USD 60 billion in funding for development projects in the resurgent continent.
The mammoth financial package was announced by the Chinese leader during his address at the two-day summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, being held in Johannesburg.
The development package includes USD 5 billion of interest-free loans and USD 35 billion in preferential financing, export credit lines and concessional loans. This makes China the single biggest global aid-giver and provider of development finance to Africa. During the India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in October, India had pledged USD 10 billion in developmental assistance to Africa.
“China will implement ten cooperation plans with Africa in the next three years,” Mr Xi said, adding that the USD 60 billion was targeted toward ensuring that the plans are successfully implemented. “These plans are aimed at addressing three issues holding back Africa’s development, namely inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel and funding shortage,” Mr Xi said.
Bilateral trade between China and Africa stood at USD 220 billion in 2014. During his address to the African leaders, Mr Xi underlined China’s commitment to negotiate free-trade agreements with Africa. This will help promote imports from the continent and support the agriculture industry which will help create more local jobs.
The announcement comes at a time when China is facing an economic slowdown. However, that has not deterred China in pledging developmental assistance to the resource-rich continent that remains critical to fuelling the Chinese economy.
Having been accused of turning a blind eye to conflicts and human rights abuses in the continent, China has, so far, refrained from commenting on the ongoing political turmoil in several countries in the region. “China strongly believes Africa belongs to the African people and African problems should be handled by the African people,” Mr Xi said.
In recent times, China has been expanding its role in boosting the strife-torn continent’s security. Mr Xi had pledged USD 100 million in aid to the African Union in September to support the building of a standby force. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma commended China’s pledge. “Our relationship with China stood the test the time and is destined to continue flourishing for many years to come,” Mr Zuma said while addressing African leaders at the summit. “The strategic partnership between Africa and China is vital to achieve development goals,” he added.
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