Africans scrabbled for Chinese $60 billion package

Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka – Many African countries apart from Swaziland and two others have either secured loans or grants for various national undertakings under the $60 billion funding being dangled through the Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC).   

Zambia has already secured an $8 billion loan and is undertaking various developmental projects including rehabilitation of health institutions, energy, roads and other national needs.

“The response has been overwhelming since we introduced the $60 billion. So far, all the countries other than Swaziland and two other countries in north Africa, including South Sudan are yet to make an application for funding and we hope to see them come on board soon,” Yang Youming, the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia told The Southern Times in an interview.

According to Youming, many of the countries, including Zimbabwe and Botswana and other countries on the continent have expressed willingness and desire to have the money urgently disbursed. The funds will be used in various forms either as loans or grants.

This is to enable them to undertake national reconstruction as well as conflict resolution related matters. Part of the money is meant to develop the continent in various aspects including enhancing bilateral relationships with China under a 15-year programme.

The funds will be paid at negligible interest rates, averaging 0.8-15 percent.

This follows an evaluation of various project proposals made to China under FOCAC in the aftermath of the summit hosted by South Africa more than three years ago at which the former offered to work with African countries to develop various economies.

“We finished the feasibility studies of various projects that were indicated country by country and we are happy that many of them are feasible and bankable that is why we have extended the gesture (funding) to deserving recipient countries,” said the Chinese diplomat.

He states that besides Zambia, many other countries are queuing up to secure the funds to assist them develop various infrastructure while others including South Sudan has indicated it wants to use the fund for national reconstruction.

“Zambia is not the only country whose financial proposals we are looking at and doing feasibility studies. Many countries like, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria and others want to be financed to carry out various national developmental projects,” said Yang, adding that many proposals under scrutiny were impressive.

Zimbabwe, like many other countries including Botswana and Zambia were among the countries that had south China’s financial assistance to undertake various programmes,

Recently, Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe met his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing with the Oriental state’s leader making a firm pledge to enhance economic co-operation between the two countries and also committing to complete implementation of the mega deals.  President Xi also visited Zimbabwe two years ago.

Everything points to greater co-operation between Zimbabwe and China in 2017 following the meeting between President Mugabe and President Xi, the Chinese envoy to Zimbabwe Hi Huang Ping is cited as having said recently.

In Zambia, the southern African and continent’s second top copper producer has already secured the US$8 billion and is being disbursement in among other ventures, constructing solar, hydro and mini hydro projects, roads, bridges, health and learning institutions.

According to Zambia’s minister of national development and planning, Lucky Mulusa, China has since been accorded a whopping 83 percent of all construction related projects in the country ranging from roads, health and learning institutions which are underway in various parts of the country.

During the sixth FOCAC conference hosted by South Africa in December 2015, Chinese President Xi pledged to African leaders that the financing was being made available for the continent in loans and grants.

According to President Xi the gesture to assist Africa was an illustration and commitment by China to foster and uphold existing ties between China and African nations.

Trade relations between China and African countries have since the formation of FOCAC in 2000 grown from a humble beginning, recording a sharp rise until after 15 years later as China’s economy continues to grow economically.

This has in turn helped bolster trade volumes which have more than trebled in excess of 700 percent to over 700 percent since the early 1990s.

The increasing relationship between China and various African states, all because of these ever increasing trade ties, led to the more harmonised way of doing business, the creation of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in October 2000 as an official knot to tighten and strengthen the relationship, a bond which has remained intact to date.

Under the US$60 billion financial package for 2016–19 China has pledged $35 billion in preferential loans and export credits, $5 billion in grants and interest-free loans.

There is an additional US$5 billion each for the China–Africa Development Fund and the ‘Special Loan for African small and medium enterprises’, as well as a $10 billion China–Africa production capacity cooperation fund, according to data.

September 2017
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