Chinese President Hu Jintao has proposed measures in five priority areas to boost the ties between China and Africa.

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Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Hu said in the next three years, his government will take measures in five priority areas to support the cause of peace and development in Africa and boost a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership.

First, he mentioned that the Chinese side will expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa, the official news agency, SAnews, reported. China will provide $20 billion of credit line to African countries to assist them in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Secondly, China will continue to increase assistance to Africa to bring the benefits of development to the African people. Projects falling under this include more agricultural technology demonstration centres as necessary to help African countries increase production capacity. This will be in addition to the “African Talents Program” – where China plans to train about 30 000 personnel in various sectors for Africa, offer 18 000 government scholarships, and build cultural and vocational skills training facilities in African countries.

Another envisaged project in China is medical and health cooperation which will see China sending about 1500 medical personnel to Africa, and continue to carry out the “Brightness Action” activities and provide free treatment for cataract patients. China will also help African countries enhance capacity building in meteorological infrastructure and forest protection and management and will continue to carry out well-drilling and water supply projects in Africa to provide safe drinking water for the African people.

The third, priority, according Hu, is that China will support the African integration process and help Africa enhance capacity for overall development. He said a partnership with Africa on transnational and trans-regional infrastructure development, support related project planning and feasibility studies and encourage established Chinese companies and financial institutions to take part in transnational and trans-regional infrastructural development in Africa.

The fourth priority aims to enhance people-to-people friendship and to lay a solid foundation of public support for enhancing China-Africa common development. China proposes to carry out “China-Africa people-to-people friendship action” to support and promote exchanges and cooperation between people’s organisations, women and youth of the two countries.

There is also a proposal to set up a China-Africa Press Exchange Centre in China to encourage exchanges and visits between Chinese and African media, and China supports exchange of correspondents by media organisations of the two sides.

The fifth priority is that China should promote peace and stability in Africa and create a secure environment for Africa’s development. China will launch the Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security, deepen cooperation with the AU and African countries in peace and security in Africa, provide financial support for the AU peace-keeping missions in Africa and the development for the African Standby Force, and train more officials in peace and security affairs and peace-keepers for the AU.

INDUSTRIALISATION

Meanwhile, SA Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said the continent’s development needs to be characterised by industrialisation. Africa was increasingly being recognised as the next growth frontier, with average growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund to reach 5.5%.

Although six of the 10 fastest growing economies of the world are in Africa, the continent still faced challenges of turning the growth spirit into a sustained development effort. “Increasingly, we will encounter African leaders saying the next phase of African development needs to be characterised by the industrialisation of the African continent. That’s our ambition. That’s what we think needs to happen if we are to consolidate this growth spirit into a sustained development effort,” said Davies.

Speaking on the first day of the fourth Conference of the African and Chinese Entrepreneurs at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, Davies said China remained the main hope for avoiding contagion from the European crisis becoming a global recession. Davies said there were three elements to the partnership between China and Africa that could be attributed to economic performance by African countries.
“A quarter of the new growth in Africa can be attributed to a mineral products boon, which has risen largely from the increased demand for mineral products arising from China and other countries of Asia due to their industrialisation. “… We have seen a consumption boon on the African continent, driven in part by the high consumption of products which are manufactured in China. Products like cellphones and information and communication equipment have fuelled growth on the African continent, which has given rise to service sector growth and new employment in service activities linked to information and communication technology.”

The minister said infrastructure development was taking place across the African continent and China had been a very important partner in a number of infrastructure projects across the continent.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said South Africa and China have weathered the storm and continue to grow and strengthen. “China-Africa business ties have seen exciting growth both in size and structure. Bilateral relations have grown rapidly with increased trade mix. For three years in a row, China has been Africa’s biggest trading partners. In 2012 bilateral trade increased to US$166 billon,” said Jiabao. Africa’s export to China doubled in three years with increasing varieties including steel, agricultural products and other finished industrial products.

Zuma, for his part, warned that a trade relationship heavily tilted in the Asian giant’s favour was not “sustainable in the long term”. He was speaking yesterday at a high-level Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing, where Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged a $20bn credit line for Africa over the next three years. “As we all agree … this trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.” But the relationship with China was different as “we are equals and agreements entered into are for mutual gain. We certainly are convinced that China’s intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to attempt to influence African countries for their sole benefit.”

The European Union has rejected what it call China’s “chequebook” approach to doing business with Africa, saying it would continue to demand good governance and the transparent use of funds from its trading partners. But China says the West still views Africa as though it were a colony, and many African countries say they appreciate the Chinese no-strings approach to aid. “China wholeheartedly and sincerely supports African countries to choose their own development path, and will wholeheartedly and sincerely support them to raise their development ability,” Hu said.
 

Pic: Reuters