BEIJING, Sep 3 – The 2018 summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation kicked off Monday with China unveiling a new $60 billion kitty for Africa’s development as part of a raft of new measures to strengthen Sino-Africa ties.
The money will be channelled to projects aligned to the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative covering telecommunications, construction of roads, bridges and sea ports, energy, and human capacity development.
The funding is broken down into several parts with $15 billion being categorised as government grants, $15 billion as interest free loans and $20 billion of credit lines and $5 billion for financing imports from Africa.
The summit kicked off with a further call by President Xi Jinping for greater representation of the developing world in global governance. He also challenged Chinese private companies to directly invest upwards of $10 billion in Africa in the next three years.
Xi, who addressed Africa’s leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta who gathered at the Great Hall of the People, said China is proud of its partnership with Africa, adding that he is ready to inject more impetus into efforts to alleviate poverty, create employment and better the lives and wellbeing of the people of Africa.
Using a Chinese proverb, “the ocean is vast because it rejects no river”, President Xi said China will spearhead the upholding of open economies that promote the prosperity of all people.
He said that global governance needs to be reformed to give a voice to the majority of the world which is the developing world including all African countries.
“China and Africa can forge a stronger comprehensive and strategic partnership. China promises to engage with Africa on a principle of sincerity and real results,” said President Xi.
“China’s 1.3 billion people and Africa’s 1.2 billion want a shared future,” said the Chinese leader as he promised that no obstacle will be allowed to hold back the ‘joint march’.
FOCAC, which was started 18 years ago, aims to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.
China-Africa trade volume amounted to $170 billion in 2017, up from just over $10 billion in 2000, according to data from China’s Ministry of Commerce.
Earlier in the morning, the Chinese President delivered a keynote address at a high-level meeting between Chinese and African business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The Sixth Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs officially opened by President Xi was attended by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Idris Deby (Chad), Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Mohamed Abdel Aziz (Mauritania), Muhamadu Buhari (Nigeria) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) among others.
In his opening remarks, President Xi recalled his recent visit to Africa during which he witnessed first-hand the successes of Chinese supported initiatives on the continent as he travelled to South Africa to attend the Brics Summit.
The Chinese leader said that China will continue strengthening its engagement with Africa as it continues to pursue a win-win partnership with the continent.
“China and Africa have forged closer ties since the last century. We have jointly successfully identified and implemented highly transformational projects on the continent,” said President Xi.
Listing Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Mombasa to Nairobi as one of the key success stories from the China-Africa partnership, President Xi said that China had invested a sum of $170 billion in Africa in the last three years.
President Xi added that the Road and Belt Initiative-the framework within which his country seeks to grow its trade and investments in Africa, China looks at building mutually beneficial relationships with African nations driven by a desire to achieve shared prosperity for the future good and wellbeing of mankind.
President Kenyatta is accompanied to the FOCAC Summit by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), James Macharia (Infrastructure), Peter Munya (Trade), and Henry Rotich (Treasury) among other senior government officials.
Speaking on the sidelines of the business representatives meeting held at the iconic Beijing Convention Centre, Kenya Private Sector Alliance CEO Carole Kariuki underscored China’s growing role in Africa stating that KEPSA was keen on growing trade between Nairobi and Beijing by smoothening the existing barriers.
“China is key for us both as a market for Kenyan products and as a source of investments. We are therefore keen on growing trade by removing barriers and by so doing, attract more Chinese investors to Kenya especially for Big 4 leaning projects in manufacturing,” Kariuki said.
The KEPSA CEO underscored Kenya’s importance to the Chinese interests in Africa given that the country is China’s 6th largest trading partner on the continent and leading in East Africa.