posted by www.equatorialguineaonline.com – July 20th, 2012
President Hu Jintao said Thursday that China would lend $20 billion to African governments for infrastructure and agriculture in the next three years, in a speech to a gathering of African leaders.
The loans outlined by Hu, which doubled the amount offered at the last such conference here, in 2009, signaled that China was pressing ahead with aid programs in African nations with abundant energy and mineral resources but with more focus on grassroots projects.
China’s aid to Africa has expanded rapidly in the last decade as the continent has become a major source of oil from Sudan and Angola, and copper from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But its projects – roads, pipelines and ports – have focused on benefiting China’s extractive industries, not African people, critics say. The infrastructure is generally built with Chinese labor.
China has come under heavy criticism for offering its aid without conditioning it on human-rights performance or governance, especially in the case of the government of President Omar el-Bashir of Sudan.
The president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, addressed the meeting and praised China’s approach, saying it was preferred to Africa’s experience with Europe. “We are particularly pleased that in our relationship with China, we are equals and that agreements entered into are for mutual gain,” Zuma said.
However, he was also quoted as saying: “Africa’s commitment to China’s development has been demonstrated by supply of raw materials, other products and technology transfer. This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.”
In his speech, Hu said China would train 30,000 Africans, offer 18,000 scholarships and send 1,500 medical personnel to Africa. The Congressional Research Service reported that total U.S. foreign assistance to Africa in 2009 was $8.2 billion. Under the Obama administration a new emphasis has been placed on health care, and more than half the $8.2 billion went to health-related programs.