China steps up development cooperation with Ghana, rest of Africa
China has earmarked 10 major areas of development assistance to boost co-operation with Africa in the next three years.
The areas are industrialization, agriculture modernization, infrastructure, financial services and green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.
China’s Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Sun Baohong, said a press briefing in Accra that these strategic areas of development co-operation were announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he addressed the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this month.
According to the Ambassador, the proposed plan was meant to lift China-Africa relations to a new era of cooperation based on win-win partnership.
She said China will offer 60 billion U.S. dollars of funding support to ensure smooth implementation of the initiatives.
The package will include $5 billion of free aid and interest-free loans, $35 billion of preferential loans and export credit on more favourable terms, $5 billion of additional capital for the China-Africa Development Fund and Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs each, and a China-Africa production capacity cooperation fund with an initial capital of $10 billion.
The envoy said China will establish a number of regional vocational education centres and several capacity-building colleges for Africa, and provide the continent’s technicians with training opportunities in China to address the skilled manpower challenges confronting African countries.
Furthermore, China will help Africa accelerate agriculture modernization, launch special projects and programmes that focus on women and children, and cancel certain outstanding debts in a bid to reduce poverty and improve upon the living conditions of the people.
On security cooperation, she announced that China will provide a total of $60 million in free aid to the African Union (AU) to support the building and operation of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for the Immediate Response to Crisis.
In Ghana’s particular case, the Ambassador said President John Dramani Mahama held bilateral talks with President Xi along the sidelines of the Johannesburg summit during which the two leaders committed themselves to strengthening the existing cordial relations between the two countries.
She said during the 55 years of bilateral relations between China and Ghana, her country had come to recognise Ghana as a trusted partner, and that China was ready to translate the traditional friendship into practical development terms to benefit the two countries.
In this regard, many Chinese private enterprises would be encouraged to invest in Ghana, particularly in the energy, telecommunications, ports, roads and aviation sectors.
“China will help to make Ghana the aviation hub of West Africa”, the Ambassador added.
Ms Sun indicated that bilateral trade between Ghana and China had grown substantially since the year 2000, and that the volume of trade currently stands at about $6 billion.
She announced that for the year 2016, China planned to invest an estimated $160 million in Ghana, mainly in the agriculture and energy sectors.
The bulk of China’s imports from Ghana are still primary products which include sheabutter, cassava chips and other agro-products.
According to the envoy, about $100 billion of foreign investments flow into China every year, and Ghana needs to do more to attract foreign investors
Established in 2000 to promote China-Africa friendship and cooperation, the FOCAC group comprises China, 50 African countries that have established diplomatic ties with China, and the Commission of the African Union.