Panel discussion on China-Africa economic cooperation in Shanghai, Sept 20. [Provided to China Daily]
Government officials and entrepreneurs from African countries gathered in Shanghai on Monday (Sept 20) to examine economic cooperation with their Chinese counterparts by holding a panel discussion.
The discussion, which was hosted by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Touchroad International Holdings Group, focused on how Chinese companies can contribute to African development.
UN Assistant Secretary-General Carlos Lopes said the valuable experience the Chinese government has accumulated in developing its economy and working on poverty in past decades is worth studying.
Lopes, also executive director of UNITAR, confirmed China's effort to develop trade and economic cooperation with Africa in the past decade.
"Joint efforts will be made to push forward the economic and social development in Africa in the future," he said.
His words were echoed by Liu Guijin, China's special representative on African affairs, who said the Chinese government has paid great attention to economic cooperation with Africa and encouraged its enterprises to invest in Africa.
China has increased its trade and economic cooperation with the African continent in the last decade, becoming Africa's second-largest trading partner, with a trade volume of more than $100 billion in 2009.
It has pledged to offer African countries $10 billion in low-interest loans over the next three years, Liu said.
At the panel discussion, Adam Mahamat, project advisor of China-Africa Business Council, addressed the challenges to Chinese investments in Africa.
They include lack of knowledge about Africa, shortage of credible data on Africa, difficulty in access to financing and lack of overseas management experience.
China's investment in Africa represented 2.6 percent of its overseas direct investment in 2009, with main funds injected into Angola, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most investors originate from coastal areas such as Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Shandong provinces.
Mahamat said challenges coming from the African side include high production costs caused by lack of infrastructure facilities, skilled workers, industrial bases and nonexistent supply chains.
"Cultural differences in working habits, attitude to work, leadership styles and unmatched expectations are also a big barrier to Chinese investors," he said.
He said serious research should be undertaken on the African economy, society and culture.
Seventeen senior legal officials and lawyers from 10 African countries came to visit the Africa Center in Shanghai on Monday.