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China describes relationship with Africa as a partnership of equals

China recently released a White Paper documenting the successes of its prevailing cooperation with Africa. The document also shines a spotlight on future ties between the two sides.

In it, the country’s State Council Information Office indicated that the relationship between the two sides has been beneficial and that Beijing and almost the entirety of African capitals have pursued economic development, and in so doing have become of great help to each other.

The paper, the first one to be released by China spelling out overall cooperation between China and Africa, specifically details how the two sides have stood with each other in times of need.  It went down the memory lane highlighting Africa’s greatest role in helping to restore the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations.

Starting off with the current covid-19 pandemic, the white paper catalogs how China canceled the outstanding debts of 15 African countries in the form of interest-free loans that had matured at the end of 2020.

This is on top of humanitarian assistance offered by China after the outbreak. Since 2020, the document notes that Beijing provided emergency anti-pandemic supplies – including 120 batches of nucleic test reagents, protective gear, masks, eye protectors, and ventilators to 53 African countries and the AU.

To boost the fight against the pandemic, the paper notes that China supplied over 1.7 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to more than 110 countries and organizations, including 50 African countries by mid-November, even as it promised to provide a total of 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

“In addition to donating $100 million to COVAX, China will donate 100 million doses of vaccine to developing countries including those in Africa.” Said the paper

Over and above this, China has since initiated the construction of the new headquarters of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

To enhance medical and health cooperation, the paper notes that China has for the past 58 years, dispatched a total of 23,000 medical practitioners to Africa, who have treated 230 million patients.

“At present, there are nearly 1,000 Chinese medical workers in 45 African countries, working at 98 medical centers….China focuses on helping African countries strengthen medical specialties, training 20,000 African medical personnel. To date, it has helped 18 African countries establish 20 centers in different medical specialties, covering cardiology, critical care medicine, trauma, and endoscopy.” Part of the paper read.

And on Infrastructure where Chinese presence in the continent is almost being felt the most, the paper indicates that from 2016 to 2020, total investment in infrastructure projects in Africa reached almost $200 billion. Projects implemented by Chinese companies accounted for 31.4 percent of all infrastructure projects on the African continent in 2020.

“Since the founding of FOCAC, Chinese companies have utilized various funds to help African countries build and upgrade more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, and 66,000 km of power transmission and distribution. They have also helped build an installed power-generating capacity of 120 million kW, a communications backbone network of 150,000 km, and a network service covering nearly 700 million user terminals.”

The paper cited the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya which has since carried 5.4 million passengers and 1.3 million standard containers since commissioning in 2017 as part of the success stories.

“It (SGR) has contributed 1.5 percent to Kenya’s economic growth, and created 46,000 direct and indirect jobs.” The report said

Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the document details mega projects done by China in Africa including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya, No. 1 National Highway of the Republic of the Congo, the Thies-Touba highway in Senegal, the Port Gentil-Omboue coastal road and the Booué Bridge in Gabon, and the first and second phases of the Nigeria Railway Modernization Project, and many more across the continent.

The paper also captured the increasing development assistance from China to Africa. According to the paper, foreign aid from 2013 to 2018 totaled RMB270 billion. Of this sum, 45 percent went to African countries in the form of grants, interest-free loans, and concessional loans.

“From 2000 to 2020, China helped African countries build more than 13,000 km of roads and railway and more than 80 large-scale power facilities and funded over 130 medical facilities, 45 sports venues, and over 170 schools. It also trained more than 160,000 personnel for Africa, and built a series of flagship projects including the AU Conference Center,” it noted in a summary of assistance extended to various aspects of the economy.

In a bid to boost scientific and technological collaboration, and knowledge sharing, the paper indicates laboratories, research centers, and innovation cooperation centers have been set up. Scientific and technological transfer initiatives, it says, have been made possible through projects such as the Alliance of International Science Organizations in the Belt and Road Region Scholarship, Chinese government scholarships, the Talented Young Scientist Program, and the Innovative Talent Exchange Project.

In agriculture, the paper indicates that 7,456 African trainees have received agricultural training in China since 2012. It also says China has established agricultural cooperation mechanisms with 23 African countries and signed 72 bilateral and multilateral agricultural cooperation agreements. This is on top of Beijing’s decision to open up its market to African agricultural products.

“By the end of 2020, more than 200 Chinese companies had an investment stock of $1.11 billion in the agricultural sector in 35 African countries. More than 350 types of African agricultural products can be traded with China.” the paper said

To promote peace and security, the paper notes that over 30,000 Chinese peacekeepers have been sent to Africa to perform tasks in 17 peacekeeping mission areas. It further says China has since 2018 trained over 2,000 African law enforcement officers and provided police supplies.

“No matter how the international circumstance changes, the heart for mutual benefit and development of China-Africa would not change. China and Africa will always be each other’s most reliable friend and sincere partner,” Wu Jianghao, China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs said after the release

On his part, the Director-General of the Department of African Affairs in Chinese Foreign Ministry Wu Peng noted; “China respects the will of the African people and engages in pragmatic and efficient financing and investment cooperation with Africa based on local conditions, which has been welcomed by African countries.”

According to the white paper, the two sides will steadfastly reinforce their traditional friendship, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, and safeguard common interests.

The paper was released just a few days before the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) ministerial meeting held in Dakar, Senegal. Its contents appeared to have shaped the outcome of the meeting that saw China make a commitment to implement numerous projects spread across nine areas in Africa in the next three years.

China insists that all projects initiated so far have been done on the basis of consultation. This is because Africa, in the opinion of China, is on an equal footing and must always have a say on any matter, especially that which has an impact on its people.

By: https://www.kbc.co.ke/

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