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Investment dealings help reinforce ties

By ZHAO RUINAN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-08-30 09:49

Chinese private companies key to Africa's economic growth, report says

A sales assistant at a Huawei outlet in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 29. ADETONA OMOKANYE/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

Chinese private companies are becoming a driving force in promoting industrialization and economic growth in Africa, with the level of China's investment in the continent rising steadily in recent decades, a report says.

"Market Power and Role of the Private Sector: Report on Chinese Investment in Africa", published by the China-Africa Business Council on Thursday, said Chinese private companies have advanced industrialization, developed infrastructure, promoted employment and improved people's lives in Africa with growing investment in the continent over recent decades.

The report comes as China and Africa prepare for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, or FOCAC, in Senegal later this year.

Over the past 20 years China's trade with Africa has risen 20-fold, making China Africa's biggest bilateral trade partner. The report estimates that China's direct investment stock in Africa may have exceeded $56 billion by the end of last year, despite the pandemic.

Chinese private companies accounted for about 70 percent of investment in Africa by Chinese companies, China's Ministry of Commerce said.

These companies have brought technologies, managerial experience and funding to Africa, and they have boosted economic growth in the continent, said Akinwumi A. Adesina, president of the African Development Bank.

An increasing number of local companies are also seeking to work with Chinese companies, he said.

The collaboration could also tap more trade and investment potential in energy, transportation, housing, water supply and healthcare sections, he said.

Since 2000, when the first FOCAC meeting was held, China's direct investment in Africa has risen more than 25 percent a year, the report said.

Lin Yifu, dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, said Chinese investment has helped turn Africa's resources into competitive advantages and to strengthen the region's weak links in funds, technology and infrastructure.

Supportive policies

Supportive government policies are also much needed as China and Africa work together, Lin said, citing the Belt and Road Initiative as an example of partnership benefiting both sides. By January, 46 countries in Africa had joined the initiative, accounting for about 80 percent of the member states in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

China's direct investment in Africa reached $2.96 billion last year, according to official figures. More than 1,100 Chinese projects continue to operate in the region, with China's investment in Africa rising 4.4 percent in the first four months of last year, compared with the corresponding period in 2019.

Wang Licheng, chairman of the China-Africa Business Council, said collaboration remains the major trend amid the pandemic, and Chinese companies, especially private ones, will work to improve high-quality China-Africa trade and investment, contributing to the region's social and economic development.

In addition to traditional sectors, the report said, Chinese companies are venturing into new areas such as medium- and high-tech manufacturing, healthcare and digital economy.

The Chinese company Huawei has provided more than 70 percent of 4G services for African users, and it was the first company to introduce 5G in the continent.

A variety of Chinese internet and technology companies are also eyeing booming investment opportunities, engaging in telecommunications, internet services and e-commerce.

China and Africa have been working more closely together on digital technology, network security and information infrastructure construction in recent years, Zhuang Rongwen, minister of Cyberspace Administration of China, said at the China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum last week.

Wu Peng, head of the Department of African Affairs in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Chinese companies are switching from "going to Africa" to "taking root in Africa".

This year's FOCAC meeting will chart courses for future Sino-Africa practical collaboration, Wu said, especially in trade, investment, digital economy and other areas.

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