China pledges over R800bn in aid, announces plan to scrap some debts
Beijing - China has undertaken to inject 60 billion USD (over R800 bn) worth of financial support to Africa and to exempt Africa's least developed and heavily indebted countries from repaying outstanding loan repayments.
This was announced by the People's Republic of China's president Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) summit this afternoon in Beijing. The summit takes place every three years.
It was not immediately clear how much the debt to be scraped amounted to, but Xi said all debt by these countries will be scrapped by the end of this year.
The interest-free 60 billion USD support will include 15 billion USD worth of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line worth 20 billion US dollars, a 10-billion-US dollar special fund for China-Africa development, and a five-billion-US dollar special fund for imports from Africa.
Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than 10 billion US dollars in Africa in the next three years, he said.
"The 60bn USD financing by China has either been delivered or arranged. We'll support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, and work with Africa to formulate and implement programmes on Agricultural implementation," said Xi.
He said a 1bn RMB (R2.1 billion) will be allocated for emergency assistance for natural disasters, and more money used to train young researchers in agri-business and for the development of African SMEs.
"We've decided to jointly formulate a China Africa cooperation plan with the African Union. We'll assist Chinese companies in participating in African infrastructural development initiatives (and)work with Africa to undertake a number of key development programmes.
"We'll facilitate bond insurance by African countries and their financial institutes in China. We'll support African countries in making better use of the Development Bank and the Silk road bank," he said.
Xi further said that China will:
* Launch a trade facilitation programme;
* Hold a marketing expo for African brand products, continue to hold free trade dialogues and set up relevant mechanisms to promote e-commerce with Africa;
* Launch the green development initiative: Fifty projects for green development, ecological development, and wildlife protection;
* Set up a China Africa environmental centre for more research to be conducted;
* Help Africa to launch environmental protection initiatives;
* Hold workshops to provide vocational training for young Africans;
* Provide Africa with training for 1000 "high calibre" Africans;
* Issue 50 000 government scholarships and invite young people to visit China for exchanges.
* Launch the health care initiative, upgrading 50 medical centres, especially the centre for disease control prevention for emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases, malaria and HIV/Aids
* Continue to provide military aid to the African Union, fighting piracy and terrorism.
To improve "people to people relations", more direct flights between China and Africa will be opened, with cultural centres set up both in China and African countries.
"No one who keeps to himself in isolation in a single island will have a future. There's a Chinese saying that the ocean is vast because it rejects no rivers. To respond to the call of the times, China will remain committed to opening up. China will continue to grow and open the economy for a win-win cooperation," he said.
Responding to Xi's remarks, president Cyril Ramaphosa applauded China for "keeping its promise" made during the 2015 Focac summit held in Johannesburg and said as African leaders, they "appreciate the 60 bn USD pledge".
"We look to China as a valuable, trusted and committed partner in advancing agenda 2063. Through Focac, China has worked to ensure that Africa's development is prominent on its agenda. We welcome the fact that in addition to trade, China has become an important investor in Africa. We should seek an investment that seeks the export of more value-added products," said Ramaphosa, ending his speech by emphasising the need to empower the youth in a bid to ensure that FOCAC was a "forward-looking initiative".
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