BEIJING — China-Africa economic cooperation has expanded rapidly in scale and extent in nearly a decade, injecting impetus to the continent’s development and bringing tangible benefits for people from both sides.
With both China and Africa entering new stages of development, the complementary advantages of the two sides have become more prominent, with brilliant prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation, said Wu Peng, head of the department of African affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a press conference on Friday.
FLOURISHING DIGITAL ECONOMY
The digital economy is one of the new highlights of China-Africa economic cooperation.
“China has been helping African countries eliminate the digital divide and seize the opportunities of the information revolution,” said Wu.
Chinese companies have forged cooperation with major African operators in achieving full basic coverage of telecommunications services in Africa, and have built more than half of the continent’s wireless sites and high-speed mobile broadband networks.
In total, more than 200,000 km of optical fiber has been laid, giving broadband Internet access to 6 million households in Africa, and serving more than 900 million local people, according to a white paper titled “China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals” released Friday.
Besides, Chinese companies actively participate in building platforms of public services in Africa such as electronic payment and smart logistics.
Thanks to the development of the digital economy, more and more African specialty products such as coffee and pepper have entered the Chinese market.
“Africa is a continent of hope. It has the potential to realize leapfrog development in new economic fields,” Wu said.
BOOMING TRADE, INVESTMENT TIES
Over the past decade, China has taken concrete initiatives to strengthen its trade and investment ties with Africa with strong momentum.
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for the 12 years since 2009. The proportion of Africa’s trade with China in the continent’s total external trade has continued to rise, with the figure exceeding 21 percent in 2020, according to the white paper.
From January to September, bilateral trade grew 38.2 percent year on year to reach over 185.2 billion U.S. dollars, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.
The structure of China-Africa trade is also improving. There has been a marked increase in technology in China’s exports to Africa, with the export of mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products now accounting for more than 50 percent of the total, according to the white paper.
China has increased its imports of non-resource products from Africa, and offered zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of taxable items exported to China by the 33 least-developed countries in Africa, with the goal of helping more agricultural and manufactured goods from Africa gain access to the Chinese market.
Direct investment of Chinese companies in Africa rose 9.9 percent to reach 2.59 billion dollars during the first three quarters of the year, with the growth rate surpassing the pre-pandemic levels.
“These figures fully demonstrate the confidence of Chinese enterprises in Africa’s future development and the prospects of the African market,” said Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce.
The dual successes of the Johannesburg Summit in 2015 and the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018 spurred China-Africa cooperation to a new and unprecedented height.
After years of dedicated efforts, the tree of China-Africa cooperation has flourished — it is tall and strong, and cannot be shaken by any force, said the white paper.
China will announce new cooperation measures with Africa over the next three years, including new trade and investment policies, at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC scheduled in Senegal’s capital of Dakar from Nov. 29 to 30, Wu said at the press conference.
China and African countries will continue to set the pace of cooperation through FOCAC, support the Belt and Road Initiative, bring the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to a higher level, and deliver a brighter future together, said the white paper.