Xi says China to implement eight major initiatives with African countries

The absent leaders, according to checks by Africanews, are John Magufuli of Tanzania who is represented by Prime Minister; Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi who is represented by his second vice-president; Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is represented by his Prime Minister; Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria and King Mswati of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) who has no representation at all at the summit.

The two-day meeting that is running under the theme, "China and Africa, Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation" has attracted several African leaders who include among others, the current chairperson of the African Union, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

"Western media deliberately portray Africans in misery for collaborating with China and they appear to have discovered big news by finding occasional complaints in the African media about Sino-Africa cooperation".

Belt and Road, Xi said, "is not a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others".

Later, at the start of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Xi announced $60 billion in funds for eight initiatives over the next three years, in areas ranging from industrial promotion, infrastructure construction and scholarships for young Africans.

China planned to exempt some African countries from interest-free loans due by the end of the year, Xi said, adding that the relief would be granted to the continent's poorest and most heavily indebted countries.

He said the forum "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe" because there was evidence of "tangible and lasting benefits to the African and Chinese people".

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, now the chair of the African Union, dismissed such concerns, saying talk of "debt traps" were attempts to discourage African-Chinese interactions.

The United States is not losing in the game for supremacy in Africa to China; Africa is losing. "Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone's expense", he told the summit.

At the last three-yearly gathering in Johannesburg in 2015, Xi announced $60 billion of assistance and loans for Africa.

On green development, Xi said China will undertake 50 aid projects on green development, and ecological and environmental protection, with a focus on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.

"We export to China what we extract from the earth and China imports to us what it makes from its factories", said Ramaphosa, describing uneven arrangement as limiting, given Africa's quest to extract full value from its natural resources. China welcomes Africa's participation in the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Museum Alliance and the Network of Silk Road Art Festivals.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will oversee the signing of a telecommunications deal backed by a $328-million loan facility from China's Exim bank during his visit, his office said.

In addition, he said China will encourage companies to invest at least $10 billion in Africa over the next three years.

Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse.

Speaking earlier at a business forum, Xi said China had to be careful about where money was spent.

"The Forum, in which the Chinese and African leaders will exchange in-depth views on the development of China-Africa relations and global and regional issues of common concern, has President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, as the African co-chair", Xiaoliang said.

An editorial in Kenya's Daily Nation said Monday that African leaders "should use the summit to ask tough questions. Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?"

  • Anthony Vega