AfDB President: Sino-African Cooperation Common Desire of Both Sides

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TUNIS, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- "Cooperation between China and Africa is welcomed by the two sides," Donald Kaberuka, president of African Development Bank (AfDB), said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

China and Africa should further "deepen and improve" their mutually beneficial cooperation, said Kaberuka, who will make a four-day official visit to China starting from Wednesday, at the invitation of China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan.

Kaberuka spoke highly of the cooperation between China and Africa and between the two banks, saying "China has been an active member of the AfDB since it joined the bank and the African Development Fund (ADF) in 1985."

He noted vigorous efforts are being made to implement Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's proposals on exploring new ways to further Sino-African cooperation in various spheres. Wen made the proposal at the ADB's 42nd annual board meetings in Shanghai in 2007.

Kaberuka said the ongoing global financial crisis had inflicted an "economic crisis" and a "development crisis" on Africa.

"The African economy fell into a full recession with economic growth dropping to less than 2 percent" from its pre-crisis level of 6 percent as both exports of raw materials and investments shrank, he added.

Nevertheless, Kaberuka said he believed Africa would walk out of crisis in 2010, "with the economic recovery in China, India and Europe" and the growing demand for raw materials.

He said some African countries including South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt had done a better job to tackle the crisis by developing a more diversified economy rather than depend on the export of a single product.

These countries have also done well in macro-economic management, resulting in steady national economic performance and relatively low deficit.

Besides, they gave high priority to enhancing regional economy and trade, he added.

He urged other African countries to readjust their economic structures, improve economic conditions and attract more investments by opening up their markets.

Born in Rwanda and educated in Tanzania, Kaberuka felt strongly about the traditional friendship between Africa and China.

"I still remember China's construction of the Tanzania-Zambia railways in the 1970s. At that time, I was a young man in Tanzania and I had traveled by the train twice. It left me with an unforgettable memory."

"China's presence in Africa has a long history and friendship between China and Africa goes back to ancient times. Currently, their cooperation takes on new forms, " he said.

"In a period of 30 years, China has made great progress, improved people's living standard and reduced the number of poor people. So many lessons and experiences for other countries!"

"Although China's experience could not be transplanted directly to Africa, the AfDB would like to be an important bridge for their cooperation, especially in the fields of renewable energy and technology," said Kaberuka who had visited China several times.

The ADB president also expressed the wish to explore new ways and new forms to consolidate, strengthen and expand cooperation between both sides during his upcoming China visit.