Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday announced $60 billion in “funding support” for development in the African continent. The pledge was made during an opening address at the two-day summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which Xi is co-chairing, in Johannesburg.
The support package includes $5 billion of interest-free loans and $35 billion in preferential financing, export credit lines and concessional loans, Bloomberg reported.
“China will implement ten cooperation plans with Africa in the next three years,” Xi said, adding that the $60 billion was targeted toward ensuring that the plans are successfully implemented.
“These plans are aimed at addressing three issues holding back Africa’s development, namely inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel and funding shortage,” Xi said.
China’s trade with Africa, which stood at $220 billion in 2014, is largely import-driven. In his speech, Xi also said that China will negotiate free-trade agreements with Africa to promote imports from the continent and support the agriculture industry to help create more local jobs.
The announcement comes at a time when China, which is Africa’s largest trading partner, is seeking to veer away from its much lampooned “cheque book” approach to doing business in the region. Despite repeated accusations of turning a blind eye to conflicts and human rights abuses in the continent, China has, so far, refrained from commenting on the ongoing political turmoil in several countries in the region.
“China strongly believes Africa belongs to the African people and African problems should be handled by the African people,” Xi reportedly said Friday.
However, in recent months, China has been expanding its role in boosting the strife-torn continent’s security. In September, Xi pledged $100 million in aid to the African Union to support the building of a standby force, a pledge South African President Jacob Zuma said was “commendable.”
“Our relationship with China stood the test the time and is destined to continue flourishing for many years to come,” Zuma said Friday, addressing African leaders at the summit. “The strategic partnership between Africa and China is vital to achieve development goals.”