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China's Africa Aid Shows Sincerity

         Date: 2012-02-23

           Tag: Africa Aid, China Africa Aid

Summary: China is investing more on "hardware projects" such as roads and bridges, which are tangible and bringing direct benefits to the local people.

China is investing more on "hardware projects" such as roads and bridges, which are tangible and bringing direct benefits to the local people.

To date, China has assisted in the construction of over 2000 km of railways, over 3000 km of highways, over 100 schools, some 60 hospitals in Africa and has reduced or canceled over RMB 20 billion yuan of African debts.

On China's contribution to infrastructure development in Africa, a World Bank report of July 2008 entitled Bridge Buildings: China's Increasing Role in Financing Infrastructure Development in Sub-Sahara Africa points out that China has invested and built a large number of bridges, railways and highways in sub-Sahara Africa despite the harsh natural conditions, with the total investment rising rapidly from under US$1 billion before 2004 to over US$7 billion in 2006. Hydro-power stations and railways are two major areas of Chinese investment. 

The 10 hydro-power stations with Chinese investment under construction will bring 6000 megawatts of more electricity to sub-Sahara Africa, increasing the region's power supply by 30%.

The report believes that such Chinese investment has greatly improved Africa's infrastructure and overall investment environment, thus boosting Africa's economic development. Thanks to investment from emerging countries including China and marked increase in Africa-China trade, countries in sub-Sahara Africa has maintained a growth rate of nearly 6% in the last decade, becoming one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

It is well-known that infrastructure is the foundation that supports a country's economic development, reflecting the country's economic development level and potential. Backwardness in infrastructure is the bottleneck constraining Africa's economic development.

The Underdeveloped transportation and dire road conditions have not only made the cost of trade among African nations and within one single state exorbitant, but also impeded the pace of foreign investment influx. The lack of or unstable supply of power is a common problem facing many African countries.

 Due to short supply of power, many African countries would plunge into darkness when the sun goes down, so Africa is often depicted by the western media as the "dark continent".

Because of limited revenues, there is at least a US$ 20 billion of shortfall in Africa's infrastructure development fund each year, which happens to coincide with China's "Going Out" strategy and is mutual-complementary with China's internationally competitive construction sector.

However, when the Chinese workers are overcoming unimaginable difficulties in building roads in the harsh natural conditions, some western media would still point their fingers at China, claming that China is investing in African infrastructure for natural resources in return.

The truth is, however, merely 7% of China's investment in African infrastructure is resource-related, as pointed out by the above-mentioned World Bank report.

A well-known catch phrase in China is "Prosperity follows road construction" and it summarizes well one of the important lessons from China's successes in the reform and opening-up.

Based on such a development experience, China is paving roads and building bridges in Africa in order to lay the foundation for the future economic take-off of Africa, which is well-understood by both the African people and African leaders.

 Whenever I visit Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on the way from the airport to downtown, the taxi driver would point to the quality highway circling the city with joy and say, "We thank China for bringing such modern roads to us".

Jean Ping, chairperson of African UnionCommission, says that China is an important strategic partner of Africa's and has made great contribution to her infrastructure development.

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