China raises fears of 'new colonialism' with $60 billion investment across Africa

Government officials bid farewell to President Uhuru Kenyatta at JKIA as he departs for Beijing on Friday

China will provide $60 billion in financial support to Africa, President Xi Jinping said Monday at the opening of a major China-Africa summit.

Xi promised at the Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) that "China's investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached".

The $60 billion pledge includes eight programs that will be implemented over the next three years, ranging from industrial and infrastructure construction projects to scholarships for African students.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the relationship between China and Africa is premised on the fundamental right of the African people to determine their own future.

African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga will take stock of the infrastructure development, industrialisation and peace and development programmes, and agree on the priorities for the coming years.

The massive scheme is aimed at improving Chinese access to foreign markets and resources, and boosting Beijing's influence overseas.

The Chinese official laid out the extensive financial strategy to African leaders, with plans to invest US$5 billion in African exports, US$ 10 billion for "development financing" and US$15 billion in grants, interest-free loans, and concessional loans; a credit line of US$20 billion.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his African counterparts Sunday that Xi will use the summit as an opportunity to outline a "specific vision on building a China-Africa community with a shared future, and announce proposals and measures.to strengthen China-Africa cooperation".

Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary for International Trade, said China already accounts for 25 per cent of Kenya's import bill under the current common external tariff structure of zero per cent, 10 per cent and 25 per cent for raw materials, intermediate goods and final goods respectively.

Xi said China would increase cooperation with the continent, including expanding imports of products beyond resources.

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"Western media deliberately portray Africans in misery for collaborating with China and they appear to have discovered big news by finding occasional complaints in the African media about Sino-Africa cooperation".

At a business event ahead of the summit, Xi said China had "full respect for Africa's own will" and wasn't interested in forming an "exclusive club".

"We're particularly pleased that President Xi and the government of China is open to this, and in fact encourage trade between Africa and China should be balanced, so that we have a win-win outcome that benefits both".

A study by the Center for Global Development, a USA think-tank, found "serious concerns" about the sustainability of sovereign debt in eight Asian, European and African countries receiving Belt and Road funds. Deeply indebted Pakistan is also reportedly reconsidering some projects in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that is a key link in the BRI.

China loaned around $125 billion to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will oversee the signing of a telecommunications deal backed by a $328-million loan facility from China's Exim bank during his visit, his office said.

Xi said Belt and Road complies with worldwide norms, and China "welcomes the participation of other capable and willing countries for mutually beneficial third-party cooperation".

China has been Africa's top trading partner for nine consecutive years.

He also voiced hope that Chinese and African companies could find new ways to cooperate in the field of technology. Economic growth lacks robust drive, " said Xi in a speech.

"In terms of cooperation with China, African countries know best", widely read tabloid the Global Times wrote in an editorial on Monday.

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