Written by Felix Njoku
Africa’s Relations with China will benefit immensely from the 3-6 February 2010 African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s high-level visit to the country.
The visit, led by the Bank Group’s President, Donald Kaberuka at the invitation of China's Central Bank Governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, will provide both sides the opportunity to share experiences on key development issues. It will also provide the Bank Group’s delegation an opportunity to gain fist-hand knowledge on China’s outstanding economic growth and industrial expansion.
On Thursday, President Kaberuka and his delegation will hold discussions with top officials of China Development Bank, followed by another meeting with China-Africa Development Fund, hosted by the Deputy Central Bank Governor, Yi Gang.
The day’s other activities include meetings with the State Council Vice Premier, the country’s railway ministry officials and those of a major railway company Group, as well as a lunch hosted by Central Bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan.
President Kaberuka will be interviewed by China Central Television (CCTV-9), later in the day.
The agenda for Friday includes a meeting with China Exim-Bank officials, a High-level Dialogue on China-Africa Poverty Reduction & Development Cooperation hosted by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), and lunch with African ambassadors accredited to China.
The delegation will later in the day take a flight to Shenzhen, the capital of new technology development in southern China.
AfDB-China bilateral cooperation dates back to 1996, eleven years after Beijing joined the Bank Group. Since then, China has provided support to the Bank Group’s institutional activities, projects, programmes and technical assistance operations in Africa, through the People’s Bank of China, the China Development Bank, the Export – Import Bank of China and the recently established China-Africa Development Fund with a USD 14.59 million initial contribution hosted by the AfDB.
So far, the country has participated in eight replenishments of the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the Bank Group, and pledged a total contribution of USD 486 million, including a USD 122 million to ADF XI (2008-2010). Both the regional and non-regional members of the Bank Group severally acknowledge and commend Beijing’s contribution to Africa’s development and poverty reduction efforts.
China joined the ADF’s Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative in 2006 and submitted the instruments of commitment for 2006-2007 and 2008-2015 with a contribution of Units of Accounts (UA) 18.71 million.
The Bank Group’s 2007 Annual Meetings in Shanghai, the institutions’ first major event in Asia, is considered to be a high point serving as an occasion to highlight the ideas of both parties for the continent’s development.
China’s Central Bank Governor and Chair of the Board of Governors, Zhou Xiaochuan, aptly described the meetings as the starting point in the intensification of cooperation with the Bank Group as well as promoting development agenda in Africa.
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was even more forthright on the importance of AfDB-China-Africa relations in his welcome speech where he urged developed countries to deliver on their pledged assistance to Africa; take effective measures to reduce or cancel African debt; improve trade terms, facilitate market access for Africa and promote technology transfer; thus helping the continent to build adequate capacity for self development. He also assured the audience that the Chinese government and people were committed to peace and development in Africa.
AfDB-China cooperation and the nation’s relations with African countries have taken a quantum leap in various areas since the Shanghai meetings, with Chinese official statistics indicating that trade between the two sides had increased tenfold to US$110 billion over the past decade.