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China's 'hardware' assistance to Africa makes sense

By He Wenping (People's Daily)

16:44, August 30, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

I have annually made several business trips to African countries for surveys and research over recent years. Each time I went to Africa, I was impressed with changes there and the Chinese who had helped to make them. Talking about broad asphalt highways and grand buildings in Africa, African people would immediately tell me that they could only have been built with the help of Chinese.

While Western countries are paying attention to the "software programs," such as "capability development," China has indeed prioritized its investments in the tangible "hardware programs," such as road and bridge construction and other infrastructure that can directly benefit local residents. China has already assisted Africa in building more than 2,000 kilometers of railways, 3,000 kilometers of road, more than 100 schools and 60 hospitals. China has also relieved them of more than 20 billion yuan of debt.

Regarding China's contribution to Africa's infrastructure construction, the World Bank once issued a research report named "Building Bridges: China's Growing Role as Infrastructure Financier for Sub-Saharan Africa" in July of 2008. The report said that China had invested a lot of money and built a lot of bridges, railways and highways in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the natural conditions are extremely harsh, and its total investment had increased from less than 1 billion U.S. dollar per year before 2004 to more than 7 billion U.S. dollar in 2006.

China has mainly invested in the hydropower station and railway construction in Africa. Currently, China has invested 3.3 billion yuan in 10 hydropower projects that can further supply more than 6 gigawatts of electricity for people in this area, an increase of 30 percent of the previous generating capacity. The report shows that the investments from China had greatly improved Africa's infrastructure and overall investment environment as well as promoted Africa's economic development. Thanks to investments from China and other emerging countries and increasing trade with China, countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa have had an average annual economic growth rate of 6 percent, making the area one of the regions with the highest rates of economic growth in the world.

It is well known that infrastructure is the foundation for economic development and a sign to judge the level and potential of a country's economic development. Poor infrastructure is one large obstacle hindering Africa's economic development. The underdeveloped transportation industry and poor traffic conditions not only raise the cost of cross-border trade and domestic trade but also hinder foreign investments to Africa. The insufficient and unstable power supply is also common in many African countries. Due to the lack of power supply, many African countries are completely dark at night, so Africa is described as the "dark continent" by the Western media.

Africa faces a shortage of at least 20 billion U.S. dollars every year to improve infrastructure, which calls for China's "Going global" strategy and competitive construction industry.

Chinese workers have overcome unimaginable difficulties in building roads in many remote regions in Africa, but certain Western media outlets have ignored their efforts and contribution, claiming that China's assistance to Africa aims to exploit natural resources in Africa. In fact, the previously mentioned World Bank report shows that only 7 percent of China’s investment of infrastructure in Africa is directly linked to natural resource exploitation.

"If you want to be rich, you must first build roads," says a well-known Chinese proverb. Massive investment in road construction has been an important element to China's success in the reform and opening-up. Based on its own successful experiences, China has made heavy investments in Africa's infrastructure. The African people and leaders know well that the investments will lay a solid foundation for the continent’s economic development in the future. When picking up Chinese visitors at airports, taxi drivers in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, often gladly point at the city's high-quality beltways and say gratefully that they would not have such modern highways without the help of China. Jean Ping, chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, has also said that as an important strategic partner of Africa, China has made great contribution to the continent's infrastructure development.


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Dr. Jim murphy, Otolaryn at 2011-08-3141.210.23.*
Nice article. Please do not forget the importance of the equipment to run a modern hospital. China has made contributions to the world"s health and to share this with sub-sahara Africa would increase their lives and advance these countries just as significantly as new roads and stadiums. The life expectancy here in Ghana is fifty-six. By helping with the medical infra sturcture the resulting increase in years would increase their quality of life and save many children. the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the north of Ghana lacks a electrocardiograph machine, laporoscopic and laser equipment, Magnetic imagining and computerized tomogramy in a four hundred bed teaching hospital with five hundred medical students which provides for the surrounding two million inhabitants.

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