Chinese investment in Africa cements friendly ties

17:20, February 15, 2011      

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While meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Feb. 11, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he would like to see more Chinese business and investment in his country.

The Zambian vice president has recently expressed his hopes that China's investment in his country in 2011 would top 1 billion U.S. dollars. These aspirations come at a time when other African countries, such as Mauritius, have publicly declared China as their major source of investment.

Chinese investment is a major factor in the robust growth witnessed in the country over the past decades stemming from increasingly close Sino-Africa cooperation. By the end of 2009, China's investment in 49 African countries totaled 9 billion U.S. dollars.

China's investment in Africa correlates with the overall economic development in Africa. The African economy maintained steady a momentum on the path of fast development until 2009 and needed significant injections of capital to improve the infrastructure of mining, manufacturing and transportation industries.

Placing this in a historical context, China's investment in Africa started in the 1980s. It gradually expanded in the 1990s and has rapidly increased since the beginning of this century, which, to some extent, eased the shortage of capital in Africa. Chinese investment has impacted on a wide range of trades, such as mining, financing, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, forestry, livestock and fishing. All of which have helped diversify the African economy.

As an old Chinese saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime." The willingness of China to invest capital in the continent has helped Africa develop its indigenous innovation. This old saying lies behind much of the motivation for China’s heavy investment in Africa in recent years.

Chinese business cooperated with businesses from other countries to develop oil resources in the Sudan, helping the northeast African nation establish a modern system for oil and gas. Furthermore, China has set up several economic and trade zones with a total investment of more than 250 million U.S. dollars in Zambia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia. Consequently, this has attracted further investment in these countries. For instance, the zone in Zambia has attracted dozens of businesses with total investment reaching over 600 million U.S. dollars.

China's investment, focusing more on the labour-intensive industries, has improved the living standards for millions of Africans and created many new jobs for local residents. According to official statistics in Zambia, Chinese investment has created a total of 15,000 jobs in the country.

Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said last year that China has become his country's top investor. There were 32 China-invested projects in the previous fiscal year, which created more than 5,500 jobs. Additionally, Chinese investors have reciprocated by building roads, houses, hospitals and schools in African societies. All of which has greatly improved the quality of life there.

Chinese investment has become more and more welcome in Africa. More importantly, Chinese investment also sparked the zeal of investors from other industrialized countries. From 2000 to 2008, direct global investment to Africa totaled 88 billion U.S. dollars, a major source of capital for African growth. China's investment has not only contributed to local people's livelihoods but also provided African countries with more opportunities for further development.

By Zhang Xinyi, People's Daily Online


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