The People’s Republic of China has announced that the country will pledge an amount of $60 billion of funding to support the development of some priority programmes in Africa over the next three years.
The announcement was made by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping at the Sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was recently held in the Republic of South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg.
In his keynote speech, President Jinping stated unequivocally that his country took the decision to support Africa in order to help the continent develop solutions to its own problems, creating jobs and improving the standard of living of its growing population.
“China strongly believes that Africa belongs to the African people and that African affairs should be handled by the African people,” the Chinese leader said.
The Chinese leader delved into history, saying Africa’s development has been stalled due to years of oppression and domination by other major world powers. President Jinping, also called for mutual beneficial cooperation between his country and the African continent.
He was quoted as saying: “comrades in arms in the quest for liberation and freedom, at the height of colonialism and apartheid. It was only natural that Africa has developed a win-win partnership for development and progress with China over the years. China-Africa relations have today reached a stage of growth unmatched in history. Let’s join hands… and open a new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development.”
In 2012, China promised to support Africa with $30 billion. That support strengthened the ties between Africa and China. However, this new funding will cover several key areas including agriculture, renewable energy, skills training, health, peace and security and infrastructure development.
A detailed breakdown of the funding includes: $5 billion of free aid and interest-free loans, $35 billion of preferential loans and export credit, $5 billion additional capital for the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium Enterprises, and $10 billion of funding for the China-Africa production capacity cooperation.
China has been Africa’s largest trade partner for six years in a row. The CNN reports that last year, the Africa and China relationship climbed to a record high of $222 billion. The increased trading opportunities between the continent and the country is responsible for making this achievement possible.
In September this year, the Chinese leader announced that China will increase its investment in developing countries around the world.
However, recently, Western observers predicted that the pace of China’s investment in Africa would slow— particularly in infrastructure projects—due to the current slowdown of the Chinese economy. China’s economic growth slowed in October and reached a six-year low of 6.9%. This raised concerns about the prospects of the global economy in 2016.
However, this new $60 billion pledge by the Chinese has proven Western observers wrong. African observers believe this new commitment by the Chinese, indicates the country’s readiness to counter the Western influence on the continent.
On the other hand, some concerned Africans have criticized China in the past for bringing in Chinese state-owned firms and Chinese workers to complete projects. Some Chinese citizens who come to work in Africa, have also been accused of destroying forests and water bodies in search of gold and other precious metals. In 2013, Ghana deported almost 1,100 Chinese citizens for violating environmental laws in the West African country.