Malawi government is set to benefit over and above $100 million from the $60 billion in aid and loans for Africa which Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Monday while hosting more than 40 of the continent’s leaders including Malawian President Peter Mutharika in Beijing.
The money would be spent on eight initiatives over the next three years, including building more infrastructure and giving scholarships to young Africans, Chinese President said.
Unlike the Western nations support , Xi said China’s investment in Africa comes with “no political strings attached”.
Xi said s during a keynote address to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: “China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa.”
Chinese development ‘buffet’
Malawi has seen the benefits of decade-long diplomatic relations with China through infrastructure developments by the Chinese generally through loans such as Parliament Buliding in Lilongwe, Karonga- Chitipa Road, Bingu National Stadium, hotels and factories.
The Chinese are also financing a coal- fired power generation plant at Kam’mwamba which President Mutharika has underscored its priority to help abate Malawi’s energy woes.
There is also human resource capacity building through exchange programmes including the military and medical fields and scholarships that Malawi is benefitting from China.
And the southern African nation is set to benefit more from China with the new $60 billion funds which included $15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, $20 billion in credit lines and a $10 billion special fund for development financing not on “vanity projects,” Xi said.
Chinese companies also will be encouraged to invest at least $10 billion in Africa over the next three years, state media reported.
The package outlined by Xi also includes medical aid, environmental protection, agricultural training and assistance, and government scholarships and vocational training for more than 100,000 young Africans.
The program is part of Xi’s broader Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious $120-billion-plus project that aims to link 65 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa — together accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s population — through infrastructure projects and trade.
Malawi move from aid to trade
Malawi leader Mutharika, who also had talks one-on-one with Xi, saidthe country wants to move out of poverty and hopes the Chinese support will bolster its development agenda.
“We have chosen to stop depending on aid. Much of the aid to Africa was spent on services and consumption, and not so much on production. As such, we have chosen to move from aid to trade. But you cannot trade if you don’t produce goods.
“Therefore, we have chosen to become a producing and exporting nation. We have chosen to invest in key drivers of the economy that will see Malawi become a producing nation,” said Mutharika in China.
He said one of the necessary steps his administration has h taken is to start a Foreign Direct Investment Program.
“We have opened Malawi to do business with the world. And we are rising on the Global Index of Doing Business,” said Mutharika.
Speaking in an interview from Beijing, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Henry Mussa who has accompanied President Mutharika, said highlighted what the President said on seeking investment and trade.
“Malawi is exploring areas of trade with China through export markets in legumes like Soya, beans, kidney beans, groundnuts, cashew nuts, chick peas,” Mussa said.
He said another area is that of tourism which the country is exploring with China businesses.
“It’s a win-win situation, we are growing trade opportunities,” he said.
Mussa also said President Mutharika has pushed for Kammwamba Coal–Fired Power Plant in Neno to be expedited and that Energy China Engineering Group, a company sub-contracted to work on the 300 megawatt project have pledged to speed up construction works so that Malawi’s energy challenges are minimised.
New colonialism criticism ‘sour grapes’
Critics have owever said Malawi and the continent at large should strive for sustainable projects that strike a balance preserving national resources and easing the debt burden on future generations.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who chairs the African Union, said that rather than viewing the investment as a “debt trap,” other countries should be asking why they’re not giving Africa as much assistance as China.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also rebuffed suggestions that China is taking advantage of the continent. The leaders “refute the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe,” he told the forum.
Chinese state media outlets have been aggressively explaining why such investment is good for the continent — and positioning Xi as the champion of the African people.
Global Times reported Monday that Chinese loans can help African countries improve their infrastructure.
“We believe African people, instead of Western observers, know best what is most needed by the continent,” stated the paper. In an editorial, the paper said that the West just had “sour grapes” over China’s good relations with Africa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :