China pledges another US$60bn to Africa as leaders meet in Beijing

Government officials bid farewell to President Uhuru Kenyatta at JKIA as he departs for Beijing on Friday

Government officials bid farewell to President Uhuru Kenyatta at JKIA as he departs for Beijing on Friday

Beijing is pledging to extend new funding of $60 billion to Africa, aimed at areas from industrial enhancement to infrastructure.

Though the loans are due by the end of the year, the amount owed by indebted countries and developing nations across the continent will be written off, Xi said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa used his opening address at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in Beijing on Monday to champion Africa's call for fair trade between the continent and the world's second largest economy.

He did not say which countries would have their debt absolved, but the move appeared to be the latest effort by Beijing to deflect concerns about debt levels on the continent and the risks of "debt trap diplomacy".

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation brings together leaders from China and more than 50 African countries.

"China's cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development".

"We have made a decision to open a China-Africa economic and trade expo in China to encourage Chinese companies to increase investment in Africa".

The Chinese official laid out the extensive financial strategy to African leaders, with plans to invest US$5 billion in African exports, US$ 10 billion for "development financing" and US$15 billion in grants, interest-free loans, and concessional loans; a credit line of US$20 billion.

President Xi Jinping of China has reaffirmed his country's commitment to follow the path of win-win partnership cooperation with African countries adding that Africa's development has great potential and the continent is full of hope.

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"Established 18 years ago, FOCAC has led global cooperation with Africa and has become a significant marker of South-South cooperation", said Li Dan, director of Africa Studies Center of China Foreign Affairs University.

Beijing has poured billions in its Belt and Road initiative, a development and investment scheme focused on promoting trade connectivity that places China at the center.

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.

"Since its establishment, the FOCAC has upheld the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and become a forum featuring equality, practicality and efficiency, President Xi Jinping, will deliver a keynote speech, comprehensively expounding on China's new ideas and proposals for enhancing its relations with Africa, as well as announce China's new actions and measures for its practical cooperation with Africa".

On peace and security, Xi said China will set up a China-Africa peace and security fund and continue providing free military aid to the African Union.

China has provided aid to Africa since the Cold War, but Beijing's presence in the region has soared with its emergence as a global trading power. It has since dipped and a year ago continued a slow recovery to $170 billion.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki acknowledged that concerns have been expressed about debt, but said "the risks must be put into perspective" as "Africa's financing needs are such that it must seize every opportunity offered to it".

China also said it would negotiate free trade agreements with countries and regional organisations and increase the import of African products.

Beijing has also fended off criticism it is only interested in resource extraction to feed its own booming economy, that the projects it funds have poor environmental safeguards, and that too numerous workers for them are flown in from China rather than using African labor. "Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?" "It is through platforms like FOCAC that we should work to balance the structure of trade between Africa and China", he said.

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