China's Xi pledges $60 billion in financing for Africa

Jermaine Castillo
September 4, 2018

A September 1, 2018 dispatch from Beijing China where President George Weah is now attending the 2018 Beijing Summit on China-Africa Cooperation says President Weah and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed two cooperation agreements totaling US$54 million (320 million RMB) for the construction of two overpasses at SKD Boulevard and the Ministerial Complex, while the other is the provision of emergency food aid.

Xi made the announcement in a keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Ghana and a dozen others signed agreements before the start of the summit for China to build more roads, develop the aviation sector, improve healthcare delivery and many more projects in their countries. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects but in places where they count the most", he said.

The two-day China-Africa summit is expected to focus on Xi's cherished Belt and Road initiative, a global trade infrastructure program.

Mr. Xi said 50 China-Africa security assistance programmes will be launched under the flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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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".

President Buhari also, on behalf of ECOWAS member states, appreciated the Chinese government for its increasing investment in the African sub-region with the aim of building a prosperous and shared future. "Our growing relationships with China do not come at anyone's expense".

No details were given on specific projects, although Xi said China was planning initiatives in eight areas, including providing $147 million in emergency food aid, sending 500 agricultural experts to Africa, and providing scholarships, vocational training and trade promotion opportunities.

Government debt from China's interest free loans due by the end of 2018 will be written off for indebted poor African countries, as well as for developing nations in the continent's interior and small island nations, Xi said.

Xi said that future of cooperation should focus on young people and the initiatives that China would drive were created to help young people in Africa. A $20 billion credit line would be established, while another $10 billion would be channelled into a special fund for China-Africa development.

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Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary for International Trade, said China already accounts for 25 per cent of Kenya's import bill under the current common external tariff structure of zero per cent, 10 per cent and 25 per cent for raw materials, intermediate goods and final goods respectively.

China defends continued lending to Africa on the grounds that the continent still needs debt-funded infrastructure development.

Djibouti has become heavily dependent on Chinese financing after China opened its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa country past year, a powerful signal of the continent's strategic importance to Beijing.

China has provided aid to Africa since the Cold War, but Beijing's presence in the region has soared with its emergence as a global trading power. He said Xi has expressed his commitment to addressing the issue. Deeply indebted Pakistan is also reportedly reconsidering some projects in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that is a key link in the BRI.

State media has accused the West of sour grapes over China's prominent role in Africa and has angrily rejected claims of forcing African countries into a debt trap.

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Rather than exporting a mass of raw materials, as Africa has traditionally done with its Asian partners, importing natural resources from China could open an abundance of employment for African countries.

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