Politics and policy
Leaders optimistic of Africa growth as Beijing forum closes
Posted Friday, July 20 2012 at 16:21
Chinese and African leaders have ended their two-day meeting in Beijing with optimism that the Sh1.7-trillion loan (USD20 billion) that China will release to Africa will spur the continent’s growth.
Speaking at a news conference in Beijing’s China World Hotel, where the meeting was held, three foreign ministers said they were “fully committed” to get the money into infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and the small enterprises.
They said the meeting had “signalled an everlasting endeavour” to grow the continent’s economy and that of China.
China’s Vice President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that China would remove tariffs on some Kenyan goods in a bid to increase exports and reduce the trade deficit that is heavily tilted in favour of China.
“The 51 members of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation have sent out a strong signal that China and Africa are serious. Although our meeting was short, our friendship will last forever,” said Mr Yang Jiechi, the Foreign Minister of China
The pledge by China to have a stand-by peacekeeping force to help the African Union and to give money to the AU peace-keeping forces in Africa, was also on the table, and is part of the reason why the African leaders readily accepted the Chinese deal.
The meeting also agreed to have South Africa drive the China-Africa ties for the next six years, replacing Egypt which has been hit by economic and governance challenges since last year.
South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Mkoana-Mashabane said that her country would not monopolise access to the Chinese concessional loan.
She said that the continent would accelerate infrastructure and manufacturing ventures, adding value to its goods for export to China and other markets.
“The time has come now, when the whole world is looking at Africa as the new growth point to ensure that there’s value addition,” said the South African minister.