Buhari, AU chair, others for China-Africa Summit

Cyril Ramaphosa

China loaned around $125 billion to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows. 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 fund to finance imports from Africa.

"We are ready to make a greater contribution to support cultural diversity in the world", he said, citing as a target exchange programme in culture, arts, education sports, think tanks and media, focusing on young people to strengthen the bond between the people of China and Africa.

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.

African and other Asian leaders have welcomed "Belt and Road" but some projects have prompted complaints about debt and other problems.

The Beijing forum brings together leaders from China and more than 50 African countries.

The president says the relationship between China and Africa is premised on the fundamental right of the African people to determine their own future.

Ahead of the presidential address, Chinese officials had cited a 2017 study by McKinsey, a US consulting firm, which had spotlighted that China has become Africa's most important and unrivalled economic partner.

"Africa is not a zero sum game". South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that FOCAC "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe", alluding to a comment by Malayasian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed last month that China was trying to promote "a new version of colonialism".




He further disclosed that China will also get involved in governance and stay committed to the vision of consultation, cooperation and benefit for all in the global governance adding that his country reaffirms its commitment to peace, security, stability and development.

On green development, Xi said China will undertake 50 aid projects on green development, and ecological and environmental protection, with a focus on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects but in places where they count the most", he said.

The president also said ECOWAS region accounts for some 30% of Africa's population and GDP. Dozens of African leaders met with Xi ahead of the conference. A total of 50 security assistance programs will be carried out in the fields including United Nations peacekeeping missions, fighting piracy, and combating terrorism.

Analysts said China's pledges highlighted Africa's growing importance to Beijing as its trade war with Washington escalated. "In West Africa, there has already been state-led efforts to boost soybean production".

This year's edition is themed "China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation".

China and Mauritius also wrapped up negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement on Sunday, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

However, President Buhari and other leaders of African countries, including Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki, led delegations to the summit, and Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, as a special guest, while 27 global and African organizations are present as observers. This, he said, would help African countries in infrastructure planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance, particularly in the sectors of railways, roads, regional aviation, ports, electricity and telecommunications.

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