CHINA / National

Energy partnership with Africa based on equality
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-22 05:57

LUANDA: China's energy partnership with Africa is based on equality and mutual benefit, and will not influence any other party, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday.

During talks with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Wen said China is ready to work with Angola and other African countries in the energy sector. "This is only one part of co-operation between China and Africa in a wide range of fields," said Wen, who flew from Brazzaville to Luanda on Tuesday afternoon.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (L) is welcomed by Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, June 19. [AFP]

Dos Santos said that China has adopted positions which respond to the development needs of African nations.

Angola is China's second biggest trading partner in Africa, following South Africa. Trade between the two nations reached US$6.95 billion last year, 41.6 per cent up from the previous year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

Dos Santos said China has established a partnership with Africa aiming to promote reciprocal co-operation without any preconditions.

Across Angola, Chinese workers are busy rebuilding roads, railways and technical institutes. The work is financed by a US$2 billion low-interest loan from China's Export and Import Bank.

One of the key Chinese-funded projects is the reconstruction of the 1,300-kilometre railway from the west coast city of Benguela to Angola's eastern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yesterday afternoon, Wen arrived in Cape Town on a two-day official visit to South Africa, the fifth leg of his seven-nation Africa tour, which has taken him to Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Angola and will also take him to Tanzania and Uganda.

He is expected to meet South African President Tbabo Mbeki.

Experience in poverty reduction to be shared

China's experience in coping with its own poverty problems will prove invaluable as the nation struggles to help alleviate poverty in Africa, said a senior anti-poverty official yesterday.

China is committed to helping Africa combat poverty, and will share its experience in bringing more than 100 million people out of absolute poverty over the past three decades, said Zhang Lei, director of the International Poverty Reduction Centre in China.

As part of the effort, the centre will train about 300 anti-poverty officials each year.

"Most of our trainees will be African," Zhang told China Daily.

Set up last year with the support of the United Nations and World Bank, the centre plans to launch two half-month workshops for African countries in the second half of this year.

The first one will start on July 5, and aims to provide case-study opportunities for about 30 division-chief level officials from about 20 African countries.

A high-ranking workshop for ministerial-level officials will follow, starting in September.

"The most important lesson we want to share is the strong resolve of the government in reducing poverty," said Zhang, who also works for the State Council Leading Group on Poverty Alleviation.

Nearly half the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives on less than US$1 a day, and life expectancy is less than 50 years, mainly due to armed conflicts, AIDS, and inadequate health care and social services.

Along with poverty-reduction aid, China has also encouraged its companies to expand investment in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, infrastructure and resource exploration in "the continent of opportunities."

More than 40 domestic and international experts have compiled an investment roadmap commissioned by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

"We expect China's investment in Africa will gallop in the coming years," said Shi Yongxiang, a leading expert on the team.

"China's advantages in certain sectors can meet African people's needs."

China is advanced in agricultural technology, seed cultivation and oil exploration, and produces inexpensive and durable light industrial products and machinery. And Chinese enterprises are also competitive in road and railway building, telecommunications, irrigation and energy, said Shi.

These could meet the needs of many African countries, he said.

Shi's Top-benefit Management and Consultancy Company worked with more than 40 experts over six months to complete the report in May.

The team suggested China set up cutting edge agricultural technology demonstration parks in Africa an idea which has been accepted by China's highest leadership, according to sources with the NDRC.

"This will create a lot of opportunities for China's agricultural enterprises," said Shi.

In the report, Shi's team emphasized that localization is the most important guideline for Chinese investors. "The tag 'made in China' should be changed to 'made in Africa'."

Shi's team suggested China not only become a product producer but also service provider for Africa.

Economic development in many African countries is at the same level as it was in China two decades ago, said Shi. "China's development and the continent's frog-leap growth call for co-operation."

Trade between China and Africa surged to nearly US$40 billion last year, rising from US$10 billion at the turn of the century.



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