President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping during a Welcome Ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in the People’s Republic of China. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS.

Beijing - Three years after China injected R94 billion into the SA economy, further agreements were entered into on Sunday evening (2pm SA time) as Chinese President Xi Jingping met with President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of this year’s Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) summit, which starts on Monday.

The two countries signed 26 agreements during the last FOCAC meeting in 2015.

Five memorandums of understanding were signed between Chinese ministers and ministers Rob Davies, Edna Molewa, Blade Nzimande, Gugile Nkwiti and Naledi Pandor.

These included the MOU for increased production capacity between China and South Africa (signed by Davis and his Chinese counterpart), MOU on cooperation on the field of climate change between China and SA (signed by Molewa her Chinese counterpart), MOU on transport relation matters (signed by Nzimande and his counterpart), MOU on the field of water resource (signed by Nkwiti and his counterpart), as well as a note in implementing the vocational training centre in South Africa (signed by Pandor and her counterpart). 

Further details of these agreements were not immediately available.

Speaking at a meeting with Xi at the Great Hall of the people in Beijing, Ramaphosa said his trip to the People’s Republic of China was a consolidation of a 20 year relationship between the two countries, which was deepened when he met with Xi at the recent BRICS conference in Sandton. 

“We spoke about the need to strengthen high level relations and deepen mutual trust [discussed during the BRICS summit]. We believe our co-chairing of FOCAC will add further impetus between us and China, but also further impetus between China and the rest of Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

Earlier on Sunday, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu addressed a meeting attended by Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs and Commerce ministers from 47 African countries, which was aimed at reviewing the performance of FOCAC since the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Action (2016-2018) in 2015.  

“We find that the record of implementation is most satisfactory, with approximately 90% of the $60 billion (approx. R884 billion) pledged now allocated to projects.  

“We also find that many of the commitments undertaken under the ten new cooperation measures announced by President Xi have been implemented or are in the process of being completed,” said Sisulu. 

The loans, said Sisulu, were channeled towards education and training, health, infrastructure development, tourism and skills exchanges across the African continent.

Of the R884 billion pledged in 2015, R94 billion was for South African projects such as the loan agreement between the China Development Bank Corporation and Eskom  to assist with financing Eskom’s Medupi power station in Lephalale, Limpopo.

On Sunday, Sisulu said one of this year’s goals was to “see how FOCAC can be further strengthened to continue to advance common growth and development even more effectively – growth and development that is mutually beneficial to the people of the People’s Republic of China and the African continent. And achieve the win - win outcome”.

“We hope that, through our engagements, we can continue to forge closer cooperation, exchange experiences and best practices to assist our respective regions to progress.

“In the People’s Republic of China, we are partnering with a country of huge manufacturing capacity, strong technological advancement and capacity in industrialisation,” she said. 

"Going forward, bilateral ties with China are envisaged to assist African countries with industrialization, skills development, FDI in manufacturing, agro-processing and skills transfer programmes, said Sisulu.

“For our part, Africa has taken decisive and tangible steps to determine its own destiny and we have adopted Agenda 2063, which is our vision to place the continent on a developmental path that will address Africa’s key challenges of poverty, inequality and under-development,” Sisulu said. 

Agenda 2063’s flagship programmes are designed to improve railway connectivity, road infrastructure, sea ports and air transportation; as well as investing in a well-developed ICT and digital economy, and Developing agriculture and agro-processing, said Sisulu.

 “We need to ensure that, going forward, FOCAC continues to be an effective cooperative partnership that serves the core interests of all its members. We need to ensure that FOCAC also serves to support our continental and regional initiatives, programmes and projects.

“In this regard we continue to look at the People’s Republic of China as a trusted development partner with a long–term strategic commitment to the African continent; which equally supports Africa’s needs, while looking to its own,” she said. 

Also speaking at the meeting was  the People’s Republic of China’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi, who said China hoped “to create synergy between the Belt and road initiative, as well as national development strategies of African countries.”

Three countries will be joining FOCAC for the first time this year - Burkina Faso, Gambia, and São Tomé and Príncipe.