China maintains investment appetite in Africa: report

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The global financial crisis has failed to dampen Chinese investment in Africa, a leading state-run newspaper said today.
Premier Wen Jiabao heads to Egypt next month for the second China-Africa summit, as China’s appetite for raw materials drives African growth.
China portrays itself as a steadfast friend of Africa and has pumped billions of dollars into the continent, especially over the last few years, often by what it calls “no-strings” loans or aid.
In the first half of this year China’s direct investment in Africa, excluding in the financial sector, shot up 78.6 % year-on-year to $875 million (R6718 million), the People’s Daily said, citing an unnamed Commerce Ministry official.
Last year’s total African investment was $5.49 billion (R42 billion), or about one-tenth of China’s total overseas investment, said the paper, which is the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, without providing an on-year comparison.
“Since the start of the international financial crisis, China has maintained strong investment growth in Africa,” the newspaper said.
China’s involvement in Africa has focused on energy and mineral projects to feed its booming economy, bringing criticism from some quarters that Beijing is prepared to deal with pariah governments such as Sudan’s to access valuable resources.
Critics also say that much of China’s aid and cheap loans end up with Chinese companies commissioned to build projects.
China counters that its interest in Africa has vastly benefitted African people.
At the first China-Africa summit in 2006, President Hu Jintao promised $5 billion (R38 billion) in loans and credit.
The People’s Daily said that of that money, $2 billion (R14 billion) had already been lent out to 11 projects. The report did not say how much of the remaining $3 billion (R15 billion) from the sum promised by Hu has been dispersed, possibly as aid.
As of 2008, China’s overall investment in Africa had reached $26 billion (R199 billion), the report added, though it did not give an exact timeframe.
“This completely shows the overall intention to support the revival of African economies and push the development of the new strategic relationship between China and Africa,” it added.