China rejects its Africa critics

China accused of taking African resources without developing indigenous industries.

    The bank is holding its annual meeting in Shanghai - the first time it has been held in Asia [AFP]
    Africa is growing at its fastest pace in 30 years as China expands trade and investment there to feed its growing economy, the world's fourth-largest.
     
    China's hosting of the bank's annual meeting, the first time the gathering has been held in Asia, marks the latest chapter in Beijing's courtship of the world's poorest continent.
     
    But some critics say China is simply sucking up Africa's raw materials instead of developing indigenous industries.
     
    Debt relief
     
    Speaking at the conference, which is attended by finance ministers and central bank governors from more than 50 countries, Wen reiterated a pledge made by Hu Jintao, China's president, in November to double aid by 2009 and to set up a $5bn development fund.
     

    "Millions of Africans still live in countries with economies that are stagnating, contracting or barely keeping up with population"

    Donald Kaberuka, 
    president of the African Development Bank

    Wen said: "We will fully deliver on our statement and we are working with African countries to implement these measures."
     
    He also said that China had agreed to cancel 10.9 billion yuan ($1.42bnn) of African debt and had announced additional relief of a similar amount.
     
    Donald Kaberuka, the bank's president, said holding the meeting in Shanghai offered a change for Africa to learn from Asia's experience in graduating from aid-dependence and recovering from the 1997 financial crisis.
     
    Kaberuka painted a positive picture of Africa's economic expansion, saying its economies were growing on average 5.5 per cent annually, but cautioned that gains were fragile and some countries were being left behind.
     
    "Millions of Africans still live in countries with economies that are stagnating, contracting or barely keeping up with population either because of fragility, violent conflict or policy setbacks," Kaberuka told the opening session.
     
    Satellite launch
     
    Critics say China must ensure it focuses on projects that deliver public benefits - including infrastructure, healthcare, and improving Africa's technical capacity.
     
    On Monday, China launched a communications satellite for Nigeria, the first time China has carried out a commercial launch for Africa, according to the Xinhua new agency.
     
    The satellite will come into operation later this year with a 15-year lifespan, reports said.
     
    The Chinese-made satellite is expected to mean big changes for telecommunications, broadcast and internet services in Africa and should save Nigerians millions of dollars in phone and internet charges.
     
    China won the satellite-launch deal in 2004, beating 21 international rivals for the contract which is valued at over $300m.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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