The New Times (Kigali)

Africa: China, Africa to Craft New Cooperation Framework

Beijing — The Chinese government will today announce new measures to promote cooperation with African countries over the next three years.

The measures will be announced during the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) slated for today at China World Hotel in Beijing.

Addressing a news conference yesterday, Lu Shaye, the Director General of the Department of African Affairs, said that the high level conference will discuss the future of the Sino-Africa cooperation.

"Our government will announce new cooperation measures to African countries for the next three years. It will be an opportunity to review the progress made regarding our cooperation with Africa following the 2006 Beijing Summit recommendations," he said.

The meeting that follows the last one held in 2009 at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will also focus on reviewing the implementation of follow-up activities from the previous conference.

Security is tight at the conference centre with six Heads of State expected to attend. Chinese President Hu Jintao will open the conference.

Dozens of Foreign ministers from 50 African countries have already arrived.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning John Rwangombwa, will represent Rwanda at the conference.

Last year, Rwanda and China signed six economic and technical cooperation agreements during a visit by Chinese International Trade Representative and Deputy Minister of Commerce, Gao Hucheng to Rwanda.

The pact included two financial agreements of Yuan 50m (approx Rwf4.6bn) grant to finance the projects agreed upon by both governments and another Yuan 50m, a five-year interest-free loan.

Rwanda and China plan to kick start a five year infrastructural project financed by the Asian giant.

"We are trying to promote African products in Chinese markets whereby we have established exhibition centres for products in China," noted Shaye.

He stated that peace and security issues on Africa will also be part of the agenda.

The conference will also examine and adopt the "Beijing Declaration" and "Beijing Action Plan (2013-2015).

In 2011, trade between Africa and China increased to $166.3 billion with African exports to China shooting to more than $93 billion.

Africa's exports that include crude oil, minerals, and agricultural products among others, have played a significant role in the economic development of China. Africa also provides a vast market for Chinese products.

At the 2009 meeting, the measures announced by Chinese government include, among others, building up financing capacity of Africa that would see the former provide $10 billion in concessional loans and support Chinese financial institutions in setting up a special $1 billion loan for small- and medium-sized African businesses.

Heavily indebted countries and least developed countries in Africa with diplomatic relations with China saw the Asian country cancel their debts associated with interest-free government loans.

The FOCAC is a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries launched in 2000.

The previous four ministerial conferences were held in Egypt, Beijing, Addis Ababa and Beijing, respectively.

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