China will provide $60 billion in financial support to Africa, President Xi Jinping said on Monday at the opening of a major China-Africa summit.
The package includes $20 billion of credit lines; $15 billion of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans; $10 billion for a special fund; and $5 billion to support imports from Africa.
The support will be provided in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies, Xi said in a speech carried live on state television.
China will also expand its imports from Africa, especially for non-resources products, and will facilitate African financial institutions’ bond issuances in China, Xi added.
Speaking to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Monday in Beijing, Xi defended the global program to develop roads, railways, ports, pipelines and other trade links. 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 unspecified poor and heavily indebted countries.
“We will fully honor the promises we have made to our African brothers,” Xi told the gathering. Among those present were South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
In recent months, Beijing has faced criticism about its debt practices from countries ranging from Australia to India, with even some Chinese academics airing doubts at home. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned against “a new version of colonialism” during a visit to Beijing last month after suspending a $20 billion Chinese-built rail project.
While Beijing-backed investment has provided African governments much-needed infrastructure without the West’s political and fiscal demands, it has also generated complaints about China’s preference for loans and reluctance to use local labor. Such concerns have grown as Xi extended his Belt and Road plan across much of the globe and tied it to his ambition of completing his country’s return to great power status.
Africa received $12 billion of Chinese lending in 2015, compared with just over $100 million in 2000, according data from the China-Africa Research Initiative. Ongoing Chinese-backed investments range from Ivory Coast power plants to a Rwandan airport to a railway in Kenya.
Africa includes some of China’s largest suppliers of oil and other commodities, and the tiny nation of Djibouti hosts its first overseas military base. Total trade between China and the continent’s nations rose 14 percent last year to $170 billion, according to Chinese data.
In his speech, Xi promised to continue what he called a “five-no” approach for African nations, including not altering developmental paths, not interfering in their affairs, not imposing China’s will, not attaching “strings” to financial assistance, and not seeking political gain.
At a business event ahead of the summit, Xi said China had “full respect for Africa’s own will” and wasn’t interested in forming an “exclusive club.”
“China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development,” he added. “Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is attending the forum ith a retinue of aides and Ministers.
President Buhari made strong case for easier access to Chinese Visa for Nigerian students and Businessmen, to ease movement between China and West Africa.
Buhari made the requests while delivering his address at the beginning of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) holding September 3 – 4, 2018.
Speaking on behalf of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Buhari listed areas of needs to include “ Visa facilitation for our businessmen and women, and students who seek to visit China”
Buhari also noted that ECOWAS welcomes more of Chinese tourists to visit West Africa, “to enhance enhance people-to-people exchanges, especially now that Member States are getting involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
President Buhari who said the sub-region is endowed with enormous tourism potentials, added that “ with China’s support, tourism related infrastructure should be developed to empower our citizens, create more employment opportunities among the teeming population and eliminate poverty.”
Buhari reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS member States to deepening and strengthening institutions in the sub-region, through good governance, the fight against corruption, combating terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime, which he said necessary actions that must be taken “if the right conditions for sustainable economic growth in West Africa are to be achieved.”