By Josephine Maseruka
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has offered Africa $10b in concessional loans over the next three years along with a range of other measures aimed at strengthening African-Chinese ties.
The aid offer, announced yesterday at a China-Africa summit in Egypt, is double that unveiled by President Hu Jintao at the last summit in Beijing in 2006.
President Yoweri Museveni is one of the 10 African leaders attending the two-day summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh. Also present is indicted Sudanese president Omar el Bashir.
Besides the loans, the Chinese premier said his country would help Africa develop clean energy and cope with climate change, as well as cooperate in science and technology.
He also vowed to expand market access for African products, boost food security and cancel more African debts.
His government, he said, would support Chinese financial institutions in setting up a $1b fund to lend to small and medium enterprises on the continent.
In terms of market access, he promised zero-tariffs for 95% of the products from the least developed African countries that have diplomatic relations with China, starting with 60% of the products next year.
In the fight against climate change, he said China would build 100 clean energy projects on the continent, including solar power, biogas and small-scale hydro-power plants.
To boost food security, Wen said, they will send 50 agriculture technology teams to Africa and train 2,000 agricultural technology experts.
In addition, he announced that China will train 3,000 doctors and nurses as well as 1,500 teachers, and build 50 schools.
By 2012, China wants to increase the number of scholarships available to African students to 5,500 while it offers 100 post-doctoral fellowships for scientific research in China.
The Chinese premier brushed aside concerns that his country was only interested in Africaâ€™s natural resources to help feed its booming economy.
â€œChinaâ€™s support for Africaâ€™s development is real and solid and, in the future, no matter what turbulence the world undergoes, our friendship with the people of Africa will not change,â€ he told the summit.
He repeated that China would not interfere in the internal politics of any African country.
â€œThe Chinese government and people have always respected the autonomous right of the African people to choose their own social systems.
â€œChinaâ€™s support and aid for Africa has never and will never attach any political conditions.â€
Addressing the summit yesterday, Museveni called upon world leaders to work together to end protectionism and promote industrial growth in Africa.
He commended China for opening up its market for African goods and trade, adding that Uganda and its partners in the East African region are working on regional integration to get a bigger market for its goods and services.
â€œAfrica is the land of ancient civilization and Egypt is the cradle of civilisation of mankind. However, for the last 500 years we have lagged behind in social economic development,â€ he told the meeting.
â€œEurope went through industrial revolution but Africa, including Uganda, has remained in the pre-industrial times. We must work together to end protectionism.â€
On the sidelines, Museveni discussed with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, the strengthening of cooperation in tourism, agricultural processing, infrastructural development, including roads and railways, and energy sector development.
Mubarak said his country was ready to cooperate with Uganda in any priority areas identified, adding that several Egyptian companies were willing to invest in Uganda.
The President was accompanied by foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa and works minster John Nasasira.