In less than a year, over 230 agreements worth some 50 billion dollars already concluded within the 60 billion new Sino-African cooperation plan.
If the enthusiasm with which Africa is showing the new funding window opened to her by the People’s Republic of China is translated into concrete execution of projects on the ground, the continent’s socio-economic development could receive fresh impetus in the next three years. Less than a year since China’s President Xi Jinping announced a new Sino-African Cooperation plan with 60 billion US dollars earmarked for projects, African countries are currently scrambling for the funding with each striving to make the best of the opportunity.
Over 50 Billion Dollars Already Booked
It emerged from a July 28-29, 2016 Coordinator’s meeting on the implementation of the follow up actions of the 2015 Johannesburg summit on China-Africa cooperation that about 230 agreements have been signed between China and Africa amounting to over 50 billion dollars. The 53 participating African countries had their eyes focused on one or all of the three areas in which the new funding window has been tailored. Of the 60 billion dollars, 35 billion is a credit line for infrastructure development susceptible to improving the business climate, 20 billion dollars as loans for other projects and five billion dollars in grants and interest-free loans for projects related to the wellbeing of the population. The Beijing Coordinator’s meeting was therefore to see how far countries had gone with the drafting of projects to benefit from the funding as well as seek common grounds on efficient field implementation.
Work reports presented both by China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi and his colleague of Commerce, Gao Hucheng showed satisfactory performances. They all agreed that the key to development is to complement each other’s strength via mutually-beneficial cooperation, foster new drivers of growth and cultivate new competitive edges. The take-off of Africa’s industrialization, urbanization, agricultural modernization and integration is thus imperative! President Xi Jinping’s message read during the meeting advocated concerted efforts in the cooperation for the mutual benefits of the 2.4 billion Chinese and African peoples.
Huge But Surmountable Challenges!
The ten cooperation plans through which the 60 billion dollars is being spent have a lifespan of three years (2016-2018). China requests for projects in order of priority, timely and more detailed information for speedy decision taking. Lin Songtian, Director General of the Department of African Affairs in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cautioned that the engine driving China-Africa cooperation has changed, likewise the structure and key players. “The train cannot wait again. It is a market-driven cooperation and no longer government. We go to Africa to see our partnership and not our ownership.” Africa therefore needs to take her development into her hands, use the platform government has created to clinch mutually-beneficial deals with the private sector and financial institutions, the new players of the cooperation and drivers of sustainable growth. This passes through attracting durable direct foreign investments. Rendering the business climate investment-friendly is the takeoff point!