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As Omicron Rears Its Ugly Head in Africa, China Promises Greater Assistance

Nov. 29, 2021 (EIRNS)—The two-day summit meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) opened in Senegal on Nov. 29 and was addressed by video by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “Over the past three years and more, China and Africa have worked together to fully implement the eight major initiatives and other outcomes of the Beijing Summit, and completed a large number of priority cooperation projects,” Xi said. “China-Africa trade and China’s investment in Africa have been on a steady rise. Almost all African members of FOCAC have joined the big family of Belt and Road cooperation. All these have injected strong impetus into the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.”

He began with the imminent need for aid in the pandemic.

“To help the AU [African Union] achieve its goal of vaccinating 60% of the African population by 2022, I announce that China will provide another 1 billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries. In addition, China will undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa.”

Second in importance was the need for increasing agricultural production and productivity, Xi said:

“China will undertake 10 poverty reduction and agricultural projects for Africa, and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa. China will set up a number of China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training in China, encourage Chinese institutions and companies to build in Africa demonstration villages for China-Africa cooperation on agricultural development and poverty reduction, and support the Alliance of Chinese Companies in Africa for Corporate Social Responsibilities in launching the initiative of ‘100 Companies in 1,000 Villages.’ ”

He said that China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, speed up the inspection and quarantine procedures, and further increase the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment for the least developed countries (LDCs) having diplomatic relations with China, in a bid to reach $300 billion in total imports from Africa in the next three years.

Then he turned to the industrialization program:

“China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than 10 billion US dollars in Africa in the next three years, and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion. China will undertake 10 industrialization and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of $10 billion to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB center. China will exempt African LDCs from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2021. China is ready to channel to African countries $10 billion from its share of the IMF’s new allocation of Special Drawing Rights.”

The Digital Economy has also become a new element in the China-Africa cooperation.

“China will undertake 10 digital economy projects for Africa, set up centers for China-Africa cooperation on satellite remote-sensing application, and support the development of China-Africa joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases. China will work with African countries to expand Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, hold online shopping festivals featuring quality African products and tourism e-commerce promotion activities, and launch a campaign to market 100 African stores and 1,000 African products on e-commerce platforms,”

Xi said.

In addition, China will help Africa build or upgrade 10 schools, and will invite 10,000 high-level African professionals to participate in seminars and workshops. “We will implement ‘Future of Africa—a project for China-Africa cooperation on vocational education,’ and start an employment ‘through train’ scheme for African students in China. China will continue to work with African countries to set up ‘Luban Workshops,’ and encourage Chinese companies in Africa to create at least 800,000 local jobs.”

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is attending the Dakar, Senegal conference in person, is also meeting personally with many of the African foreign ministers. He announced that with the agreements made in 2018, some 85% of the initiatives set up at that time have been implemented and 70% of the $60 billion promised has been disbursed or earmarked.

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