China to invest over $60bn in Africa over 3 years

Chinese President Xi Jinping says the least developed countries with diplomatic relations with his govt and heavily indebted from loans offered by his country don’t have to worry about paying back the money.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping after his speech during the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 3 September 2018. Picture: AFP

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced his government will invest over $60 billion in Africa over the next three years and cancel debt from the least developing countries that have relations with China.

Xi officially opened the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing on Monday afternoon.

He defended his government against those claiming it’s trying to colonise Africa.

FOCAC is a multilateral platform that brings together 52 African countries for cooperation, covering various aspects of protocol, trade and the economy.

President Xi has announced aid initiatives for the African continent through grants, interest-free loans, setting up special funds for development financing and another for financing imports from African.

“China will extend $60 billion of financing to Africa in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies.”

He says the least developed countries with diplomatic relations with his government and heavily indebted from loans offered by his country don’t have to worry about paying back the money.

“The debt that they have incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due to mature by the end of 2018, will be exempted.”

He’s also announced his government will continue offering military aid to the African Union.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for more balance to the structure of trade between China and Africa, saying there must be a win-win approach to investments.

Ramaphosa was co-chairing the FOCAC in Beijing.

With China being Africa’s largest trading partner, much of what is exported from Africa are raw materials while much of what is imported from China back to the continent are finished goods.

Ramaphosa says the fact that Africa exports to China materials it extracted from the earth and China manufactures it in its factories must change.

“This obviously limits the ability of African countries to extract full value for their abundant natural resources and to create work for its people.”

He says there should be a balance in the structure of trade between Africa and China.

“So that we have a win-win outcome that benefits both China and the countries of Africa.”

Ramaphosa has welcomed China’s announcement that it will invest over $60 billion over the next three years and cancel debt incurred by the least developed countries in Africa.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)