President to co-chair international summit

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa is next week set to travel to Beijing, where he will co-chair the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit.

The gathering is set to put infrastructure and industrial development at centre stage.

“These areas are aimed at addressing the three bottlenecks in Africa, as identified by China and Africa, which are hampering Africa’s development, namely, inadequate infrastructure; lack of professional and skilled personnel, and a funding shortage,” International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Monday.

The summit -- which is themed ‘China and Africa: toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation’ -- will be preceded by President Ramaphosa’s State visit to China, which follows President Xi Jinping’s State visit to South Africa on the eve of the BRICS Summit in July.

Both Chinese and African leaders will exchange ideas on China-Africa relations and international and regional issues of common concern.

Briefing the media, Sisulu said the Beijing summit, set for 3 - 4 September, would be a significant gathering between China and African countries, three years after the last FOCAC Summit was held in Johannesburg in 2015.

Infrastructure development and industrialisation are uppermost on Africa’s agenda, pursuant of the Africa Free Trade Area.

Sisulu said Africa-China relations are guided by real results, affinity and good faith.

The 2015 summit ended in the Johannesburg Declaration and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Action Plan (2016-2018). The upgrading of the “Sino-African Strategic Partnership” to a “Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership”, guided by the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, was also announced at that summit.

The announcement by China then included new measures to be implemented from 2016 to 2018, aimed at addressing the three bottlenecks in Africa, which are hampering Africa’s development.

To build the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, China committed to implement 10 cooperation plans with Africa, namely in the areas of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.

To facilitate the implementation of these measures, China announced the provision of US$60 billion for funding support, which includes US$5 billion for grants and zero-interest loans and US$35 billion for concessional loans and export credit and US$5 billion for Technical and Industrial Project Funding.

Furthermore, an increase of US$5 billion was announced to be added to the China-Africa Development Fund and Special Loans for the Development of Africa; and the China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation will be provided with an initial contribution of US$10 billion.

Established 18 years ago, FOCAC has achieved fruitful results and has become a significant mark of China-Africa cooperation. It also serves as the mechanism leading international cooperation with Africa and promoting South-South cooperation.

The summit aims to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future, and further dovetail China's Belt and Road Initiative with African development, set a new path for a higher level of China-Africa cooperation, and deepen people-to-people exchanges. –