China's Premier Li Keqiang, left, and Ethiopias Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn address a news conference in Addis Ababa on Sunday during Li's first visit to Africa as premier. Photo: Reuters

Beijing - China’s Premier Li Keqiang had unveiled extra aid for Africa totalling at least $12 billion (R125bn) yesterday, and offered to share advanced technology with the continent to help with the development of high-speed rail, state news agency Xinhua said.

Li pledged the additional funding in a speech at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

China would increase credit lines to Africa by $10bn and boost the China-Africa Development Fund by $2bn, bringing it to a total of $5bn, Xinhua said. It provided no time frame.

Li “depicted a dream that all African capitals are connected with high-speed rail, so as to boost pan-African communication and development”, the report said. As China had advanced technologies in this area, he said China was ready to work with Africa “to make this dream come true”.

China would also offer $100 million in aid for wildlife protection, he added.

It is Li’s first visit to Africa since he became premier last year, and follows a trip to the continent by President Xi Jinping in March 2013, when he renewed an offer of $20bn in loans to Africa from 2013 to 2015.

He said the new $10bn credit line would be on top of the existing $20bn already offered, the service reported.

Chinese officials said last week that Li’s trip, which also takes in oil-rich Nigeria and Angola, would not simply be for energy deals and Beijing would seek to help boost African living standards.

Trips by Chinese leaders to Africa are often marked by big resource deals, triggering criticism from some quarters that China is only interested in the continent’s mineral and energy wealth.

On Sunday Li said disputes arising over China’s investment projects in Africa were just “growing pains” in a burgeoning relationship that saw their trade top $200bn last year.

He said Chinese firms in Africa needed to abide by local laws and take responsibility to protect the interests of local communities. “I wish to assure our African friends in all seriousness that China will never pursue a colonialist path like some countries did, or allow colonialism, which belongs to the past, to reappear in Africa.” - Reuters