Substantive help urged for Africa

By Bao Dao Zu (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-17 09:44

SHANGHAI: Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday urged the international community, developed countries in particular, to take more substantial action to fulfil their commitment to assist the African continent.

He said the world should boost economic growth in Africa by making concrete efforts in a number of areas including reduction or cancellation of debt and transfer of technology.

"Africa needs to rely on itself for sustainable development but international help is indispensable," Wen said.

He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the annual meeting of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), which is being held in Asia for the first time and the second time outside Africa.

Wen reaffirmed China's pledge made by President Hu Jintao at a summit with African heads of state in Beijing last November, saying wide-ranging cooperation has brought tangible interests to people on both sides.

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"We will fully deliver on our statements and we are working with African countries to implement those measures," Wen said.

China had cancelled 10.9 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) of African debt and announced additional relief of 10 billion yuan ($1.3 billion), the premier said.

He also urged that new ways be explored to upgrade cooperation, suggesting the combination of government aid and business activities

Wen called for better project evaluation and higher efficiency of investment and loans, which should focus on projects that deliver public benefits.

"We are very sincere in helping Africa beef up its economy," Wen said.

Themed "Africa and Asia: Partners in Development", the AfDB annual meeting is scheduled to focus on infrastructure development in Africa, regional integration and poverty relief.

Around 2,000 participants attended the opening ceremony, including the presidents of Rwanda, Cape Verde and Madagascar.

"It is not fortuitous that we are meeting on this continent, in China, and at this juncture," said Donald Kaberuka, President of AfDB.

"This annual meeting is an opportunity to exchange experiences and enhance partnership."

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, said he is confident that the meeting will become a starting point for all parties to promote development in both Asia and Africa.

The AfDB meeting is another significant Africa-related event in China, following the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum held last November and the recent appointment of a special envoy on African issues.

China, which joined the AfDB in 1985, is one of 24 non-African shareholders in the organization

Two-way trade soared to $55.5 billion last year, four times the 2000 level, according to the bank. Beijing says it wants that figure to rise to $100 billion by 2020.

(China Daily 05/17/2007 page1)

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