Sunzou, China — THE second edition of the China-Africa People's Forum started here on Wednesday with hopes of greater economic co-operation between the two parties.
Former President Benjamin Mkapa arrived here on Tuesday for the high profile meeting jointly organised by the China Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Network for International Exchanges, the African Union Commission and several African NGOs.
According to Li Liqing, Deputy Secretary General of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges, some other former presidents were in attendance at the meeting, including Joacquim Chisano of Mozambique, John Kufuor of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.
With the theme of "People's voice, people's friendship and co-operation for the people", the forum will also provide an NGO exchange platform aimed at enhancing partnerships and promoting friendship between China and Africa. More than 300 representatives from Chinese NGOs and 35 African countries are attending the forum, Mr Li added.
Several activities including a dialogue on joint efforts for a batter life between China and Africa, a photo exhibition on China-Africa Friendship, traditional Chinese and African art exhibitions and cultural performances will also be held during the forum.
The first forum was held in Nairobi, last year, where more than 200 representatives attended. The Nairobi Declaration, outlining guiding principles of NGO exchanges between China and Africa, was passed at the forum, and the implementation will be discussed in this August meeting.
The growing economic cooperation between China and Africa, alongside robust trade have so far created a "win-win" situation for both sides, thus complementing in a wide range of aspects. Since the year 2000, China-Africa trade has been enjoying an annual growth rate of 33.5 per cent, reaching 106.8 billion US dollars in 2008.
The target set at the 2006 Beijing Summit of China-Africa Cooperation Forum to push trade volume to 100 billion US dollars by 2010 was met two years ahead of schedule.
To help African countries ease the impact of global financial crisis, China's favourable tariff policy toward African imports have covered 500 product categories. A total of 890 million dollars worth of goods have been imported under this favourable policy.
For China, 53 African countries with a total population over 800 million, also have huge market potential. China's exports of manufactured goods, such as textiles and electric devices, have been enjoying steady growth. The African continent, rich in resources and with a huge market potential, has also offered great opportunities from Chinese companies in their expansion efforts.
Africa has turned out to be a hot destination of Chinese investment. By the end of 2009, China had over 7.8 billion dollars direct investment in African countries.
Against the backdrop of the sweeping global financial crisis, China has made some 875 million dollars investment in Africa during the first nine months of this year, a 77.5 per cent increase year on year. Much of the investment was focused or infrastructure projects and other programmes that benefit the local people.