Johannesburg – Chinese President Xi Jinping announced $60 billion (about R860bn) in investment and development aid for Africa on Friday, an amount and scale unprecedented in the history of Africa’s development partnerships.
“China-Africa relations have today reached a stage of growth unmatched in history. We should scale the heights, look afar, and take bold steps,” Xi told African leaders at the Focac summit in Sandton, Joburg.
The announcement was met with rapturous applause from more than 40 African heads of state and their delegations at the Sandton Convention Centre.
The development financing includes $5bn in grants and zero-interest loans, $35bn in concessional loans, and an increase of $5bn to the China-Africa Development Fund, and an initial contribution of $10bn to the China-Africa fund for production capacity co-operation.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, responding as the current chair of the AU, said: “Here is a man, representing a country once called poor, which was never our coloniser. He is doing for us what we had expected those who colonised us to do.
“If they have ears to hear, let them hear, he is a God-sent person.”
Xi unveiled a blueprint for China’s development partnership with Africa which directly addresses the key challenges facing the continent, with innovative projects and solutions for poverty eradication and economic growth.
It was a slap in the face for those who have argued the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is interested only in commodity extraction from its partnership with Africa.
“To build a China-Africa comprehensive strategic and co-operative partnership, China will implement 10 co-operation plans with Africa in the next three years.
“These plans aim at addressing three bottleneck issues holding back Africa’s development, namely inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and funding shortage.”
AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma praised the fact that the PRC has made industrialisation a centrepiece of the win-win co-operation, particularly the beneficiation of the continent’s natural resources.
Dlamini-Zuma lamented the fact that Africa spends $80bn a year on food imports and suggested that efforts to modernise agriculture and enhance agro-processing and business are needed urgently.
Dlamini-Zuma also emphasised that Africa spends $5bn a year importing skills, and needs to improve education in science, engineering and maths.