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China offers Africa another $60b, warns it’s not for ‘vanity projects’


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CHINESE President Xi Jinping has announced that his country is going to channel an additional $60 billion into the African continent in aids, investment, and loans. The country had made a similar announcement in 2015.

However, Jinping, who stressed that there were no strings attached to the funds, warned that they should not be spent on “vanity projects” but on ventures that drive development and impact meaningfully on the lives of the people.

Jinping made the announcement on Monday, at the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). 53 African heads of states and governments are attending the forum, including President Muhammadu Buhari.

This is the third time China is hosting the Africa summit; after the inaugural edition in 2006 in Beijing and another one in 2015, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

There have been concerns that China’s huge investment in Africa is the country’s way of getting African nations debt-trapped, and therefore vulnerable to manipulation. But in his speech, Jiping said China has no such intention to gag any African nation or to meddle in their internal affairs.

“China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa,” Jinping said.

“What we value is the sharing of development experience and the support we can offer to Africa’s national rejuvenation and prosperity.

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“China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development. Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects but in places where they count the most.

“I hope that our entrepreneurs will act to fulfil social responsibilities and respect local culture and tradition.

“I also hope you will do more in staff training and bettering lives for the local people and will put more emphasis on the environment and resources.”

The $60 billion fund, which will be made available under the Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), includes $15 billon grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans; $20 billion credit lines; setting up of a $10 billion special fund for development financing and a $5 billion special fund for financing imports from Africa.

President Jinping also promised that China will increase imports, especially non-resource products, from Africa. He also said African countries will be supported to participate in China’s international import expo which will hold in November in Shanghai.

Major Chinese projects in Africa include the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway (inaugurated on New Year Day 2018), and Kenya’s standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi (commissioned on May 31, 2017).

In Nigeria, the Chinese government is providing counterpart funding for all the ongoing rail projects in the country. President Buhari, during the commissioning of the Abuja light rail project, in July this year, praised China for its huge investment in Nigeria and in Africa in general.

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“Let me place on record the Nigerian Government’s appreciation to the Government of China and the EXIM Bank of China for their support on this and many other projects currently being executed in the country. This gesture further cements the already existing cordial relations and developmental partnership between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China,” Buhari said at the time.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, who is also on President Buhari’s entourage to China, said Nigeria will sign a $223 million financing package for the Mambilla power plant at the summit, as well as other agreements for infrastructure investments for the Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt airports.

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