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Friday, December 4, 2015, 21:49

Xi pledges US$60b for development in Africa

By Agencies

Xi pledges US$60b for development in Africa
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening session of the Forum on Africa and China Cooperation at Sandton, in Johannesburg, on Dec 4, 2015. (MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP)

JOHANNESBURG - Chinese President Xi Jinping told African presidents on Friday at a summit that his country would provide US$60 billion to fund development on the continent, outlining the Asian economic giant wanted to build a relationship of equals.

Xi, who is co-chairing the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation where several African heads of state were attending, outlined a broad 10-point development plan driven by China.

"To ensure the successful implementation of these 10 cooperation plans, China decides to provide a total of US$60 billion of funding support," Xi said.

"China will implement 10 cooperation plans with Africa in the next three years," Xi said. "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."

1 BILLION YUAN OF FOOD AID

President Xi unveiled a China-Africa cooperative plan for agricultural modernization, noting that China is to provide 1 billion yuan (US$156 million) of emergent food aid to the African countries hit by El Nino.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Xi said China stands ready to share its experience in agricultural development with Africa, and transfer applicable technologies to its African partners.

Xi encouraged Chinese enterprises to engage in various areas in Africa, such as large-scale farming, animal husbandry, and grain storage and processing, to increase the local employment and the farmers' income.

PROVERTY REDUCTION

China will offer more help to Africa on poverty reduction in the coming three years, as President Xi announced a Sino-African cooperation program on poverty reduction and public welfare.

China will increase its assistance to Africa to launch hundreds of projects on poverty alleviation named "Happy Life" and relevant plans focusing on women and children, said Xi.

China will also exempt the debt of the outstanding intergovernmental interest-free loans due by the end of 2015 owed by relevant least developed countries in Africa, he added.

EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

China plans to provide training and educational opportunities to Africa to help solve the continent's talent shortage, President Xi said.

China will establish a number of local vocational education centers and competence-building colleges for Africa, train 200,000 technicians and provide the continent 40,000 training opportunities to China, Xi said.

China will also offer 2,000 educational opportunities with degrees or diplomas and 30,000 government scholarships to African students, Xi added.

UPGRADING STRATEGIC PARTINERSHIP

China also proposed that the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership be upgraded to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, Xi said.

Xi noted that China, in conducting its relations with Africa, will adhere to the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests.

China will strengthen its cooperation with Africa in the fight against violent extremism and would not interfere with the political choices of countries in the continent, Xi said.

FUND HITS US$ 5 BILLION

The China Development Bank has hit its target of pooling US$5 billion this year in its equity investment fund for investment in Africa, it said on Friday.

It has already allocated or earmarked nearly US$3.2 billion in the China Africa Development Fund (CAD Fund) for more than 80 projects from infrastructure to agriculture to energy resources in 35 African countries.

The bank estimated that these projects will attract Chinese enterprises to invest a further US$16 billion in Africa, creating a million jobs.

The CAD Fund was set up in 2007 to diversify financial vehicles facilitating Chinese investment in Africa.

The African Union has welcomed the elevated partnership between China and Africa, saying it stood the best chance to fight poverty and improve food security.

African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Friday the political and economic relations with China would have an immediate impact on youth employment.

"We can overcome the biggest challenges that affect our people," the AUC official said in her opening remarks at the FOCAC.

SECOND FOCAC SUMMIT

Xi and dozens of African leaders kicked off Friday the landmark summit primed to lift the time-honored win-win partnership between the world's largest developing country and the continent that is home to the largest number of developing countries to a higher level.

Themed "Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development," the summit is the second of its kind under the 15-year-old framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which groups China, 50 African countries that have established diplomatic ties with China, and the Commission of the African Union.

The meeting is scheduled to conclude on Saturday with the release of a declaration.

The first summit of FOCAC, which holds a ministerial meeting every three years, took place in Beijing in 2006, during which the two sides decided to establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.

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