The Sunday Mail
Fatima Bulla in Beijing, China
Fifteen years after the turn of the millennium, China and Africa’s trade partnership has shot up 20-fold, The Herald has learnt.
Director General of the African Affairs Department in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Dai Bing has said trade between China and Africa rose from $10.5 billion in 2000 to $220 billion in 2014.
“In 2000, China’s investment in Africa was very low. In 2015, our investment in Africa exceeded $100 billion. And these investment figures do not include individual investments by private Chinese citizens into Africa,” he said.
The substantial growing interests between the Asian economic giant and Africa are buoyed by the cordial relations between the two.
China and Africa make up the largest market in the world and relations between the two date back to the former’s founding year in 1949 when the second largest global economy adopted a strategy of reformation and opening up.
Since then, the relations have evolved hinged on similar interests which include fighting colonialism between 1949 and 1978, political and economic development (1978-2000), establishment of the Forum on Africa and China Cooperation (2000-2015) and the subsequent build up from that establishment into the current phase of comprehensive strategic partnership.
It is within the 15 years of FOCAC’s birth, whose aim is to provide a forum for political dialogue and practical cooperation between China and Africa, that more engagements between Africa and China have been experienced.
The cooperation’s approach has shifted from just trading in goods to production capacity cooperation with business communities spearheading the initiatives ahead of the Governments.
At the 2015 Johannesburg summit, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced 10 China-Africa cooperation plans through which projects have been implemented in African countries.
Further to that, China has extended aid and loans to Africa, mainly for infrastructure and productive projects which include ports, railways, highways, textile factories, concrete factories and steel mills, with the aim to create jobs for locals and fiscal revenue.
The Chinese Government has assisted Zimbabwe in developing its infrastructure, with the Kariba South Hydro Power Station now adding 300 megawatts to the national grid.
The Asian giant has also built railways in Kenya (Nairobi to Mombasa), Nigeria (Abuja to Kaduna), Ethiopia (Addis Ababa to Djibouti).
In Mozambique, the Chinese Government is building Maputo Catembe Bridge, Africa’s largest suspension bridge while in Ghana they have provided a US$ 50 million to construct a multi-purpose fishing port complex.
“When we do business, we focus on sincerity and friendship. President Xi prioritises friendship with African countries.
“We sincerely believe that if China develops well, we can bring more opportunities for African countries to develop. And if African countries develop, they will also provide impetus to China’s economic development and the world will benefit from that,” Mr Dai said.
By the end of 2017, China had provided 20 000 government scholarships and trained 150 000 African professionals.