China to fulfil pledges for Africa

Updated: 2007-01-30 09:47

China will sign debt relief agreements with 33 African countries by the end of 2007 to honor the pledges it made at the Sino-African Forum, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Monday.

The move came a day before President Hu Jintao sets off on an African tour which will take him to Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles.

The ministry did not reveal the total value of the loans, which matured at the end of 2005, to be written off. The nations concerned are heavily-indebted countries or are among the world's least developed nations, it said.

According to the ministry, China plans to double free aid and interest-free loans to African countries to help with social, cultural and public welfare projects over the next three years.

Preferential loans worth three billion U.S. dollars will be provided to help African countries develop infrastructure, purchase technological equipment and establish production enterprises.

A 50,000-square-meter international convention center will be built for the African Union free of charge. The building is expected to be completed at the end of 2010.

China will also strengthen its cooperation with African countries in human resources, agriculture, medical care, social development and education over the next three years.

General or special hospitals with 100 to 150 beds will be built for countries that have poor medical facilities and anti-malarial medicines will be provided to 33 countries.

Three hundred young volunteers will be dispatched to English-speaking countries like Ethiopia and Zimbabwe and French-speaking countries over the next three years.

China also plans to help African countries build a total of 100 primary schools before 2009, each of which will be able to accommodate 300 pupils.

The country has invested in 800 aid projects in Africa over the past 50 years, including 137 agricultural projects and 133 infrastructure projects, according to statistics from the MOC.

People in 43 African countries have been treated by Chinese medical teams made up of a total of 16,000 Chinese personnel.

In the past three years alone, China has trained more than 30,000 Africans.

"The aid was offered sincerely and selflessly to meet the needs of African countries. There were neither political strings attached nor interference in internal affairs", said an official with the MOC.

The MOC said China also encourages Chinese companies, both private and state owned, to work in Africa on contracted projects in industries such as house construction, petrochemicals, electric power, transportation and telecommunications.

Last year, turnover of Chinese enterprises amounted to 9.5 billion U.S. dollars in these projects, which helped raise local employment, said the MOC.

Trade between China and Africa rose 40 percent to a record 55.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2006.

China's exports to Africa increased 43 percent to 26.7 billion U.S. dollars, while imports were up 37 percent to 28.8 billion U.S. dollars.

To expand imports from Africa, China has exempted 190 goods produced in 28 of the least developed African countries from import tariffs.

China's direct investment in 49 African countries reached 6.64 billion U.S. dollars last year.

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