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Overseas parks boost China-Africa industrial cooperation

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-06-14 16:37
[Photo by Zhang Chengliang/China Daily]

GUANGZHOU - A Uganda-China mining industrial park will begin operation in October in the East African country, serving as an example of production capacity cooperation between China and Africa.

"China's experience in industrial development and pollution management will be implemented into the park's operation, prioritizing environmental protection," said Lyu Weidong, chairman of Guangzhou DongSong Energy Group Co Ltd, investor and builder of the park.

"Some areas in China developed the economy at the cost of the environment. We've learned from our mistakes and now implement green development at the very beginning, even if it means a significant hike in investment," Lyu said.

With a total investment of $620 million, the park in Uganda's Tororo District consists of plants that process minerals, manufacture phosphate fertilizer or steel, or smelt tin. It also has a brick factory and a slag grinding plant, both of which use steel slag, and a sewage treatment plant which provides water circulation for the whole park. Meanwhile, the redundant gas and heat will also be recycled.

"It is a complete industrial chain, which not only increases the added value of resource products, but also prevents harm to the natural environment," Lyu said.

Some African countries have been actively building industrial parks and special economic zones to create new drives for economic and social development, longing for China's experience and investments.

In Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, a park located in Nigeria's Ogun State, 26 companies in its 2.24-square-kilometer startup area generated a combined output value of 1.5 billion yuan ($234 million) in 2017 and have hired nearly 5,000 local employees, according to Zhu Layi, president of Guangdong New South Group Co Ltd, operator of the zone.

Star companies in the park include Goodwin Ceramic, the largest ceramics manufacturer in Africa with a daily output of 120,000 square meters of ceramics, and Hewang Packaging & Printing FZE, the largest carton box factory in Nigeria with a daily output of 600,000 pieces. Both companies are built with Chinese investment.

National Bureau of Statistics data shows that in the first quarter of the year, the trade volume between China and Africa increased by 12.4 percent year-on-year.

China's investment in Africa has totalled over $100 billion and the country has built more than 20 economic zones in the continent, with more planned, according to Huo Jiangtao, assistant dean of the Institute for African Studies at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

China attaches great importance to infrastructure and the business environment before building economic zones. "Attracting foreign investment and promoting local employment are also high on its agenda," Huo said. "Many Africans believe that these experiences are worth learning."

Teferi Melesse Desta, consul general at the Consulate General of Ethiopia in Guangzhou who is responsible for investment affairs, has been visiting companies and industrial parks in the Pearl River Delta region.

"The number of Chinese companies investing in Ethiopia is increasing. With these new industrial parks, cooperation between China and Africa will be further expanded," he said.

"Chinese companies focus on social responsibilities and international market rules when investing and building industrial parks in Africa," Huo said.

"China has brought tangible changes and benefits to the African society through improving local infrastructure, building schools and hospitals, and offering training courses," she said.

Looking into the future, Chinese entrepreneurs believe there is great potential for China-Africa industrial cooperation since the African market is full of opportunities.

Lyu Weidong said DongSong plans to launch energy development projects in Cameroon and Mozambique within three years. New South Group also plans to build 10 industrial parks and 10 medical centers in Africa in the next five years.

To foster increased cooperation, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Guangdong Committee announced earlier this month that it is working to establish the Africa Guangdong Association of Commerce.

"We'll guide the industrial cooperation between Guangdong and African countries, help bridge governmental and private resources, and enhance mutual understanding between China and Africa," said Lin Tao, chairman of the CCPIT Guangdong Committee.

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