China’s premier Li Keqiang and Ethiopia’s prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn at a treaty signing ceremony in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Ethiopia Sunday for the start of a four nation Africa tour (Nigeria, Angola and Kenya), his first visit to the continent since assuming his position a little over a year ago. Both nations signed 16 deals total which included legal accords covering diplomatic visa exemptions, cultural corporation and extradition, agreements on economic, trade and technical cooperation, loans and cooperation agreements for the construction of roads and industrial zones.
Chinese firms have invested heavily in Ethiopia in recent years with their worth swelling well over $1 billion in 2014, according to official figures.
Beijing is also a key partner in Ethiopia’s bid to expand infrastructure such as roads, railways and telecom services.
Huawei Technologies Co Ltd – the world’s second largest telecom equipment maker – and ZTE Corp are working to introduce a high-speed 4G broadband network in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and a 3G service throughout the country.
Officials said both firms have now signed an $80 million deal to lay optical ground cables to form a nationwide network.
This is the second major high level visit to Ethiopia after last years visit by President Xi Jinping.
In continuation of Chinese investment, engagement and cooperation in Africa, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang unveiled extra aid for Africa totaling at least $12 billion on Monday, and offered to share advance technology with the continent to help with development of high-speed rail, boost collaboration in industry, finance, poverty reduction, ecological protection, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. Speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Mr. Li also reaffirmed Beijing’s support for Africa’s infrastructure sector: “Infrastructure is the precondition to industrial development. China will actively participate in projects such as roads, railways, telecommunications and power in Africa”.
Li said that the new $12 billion credit line would be on top of the existing $20 billion already offered when former President Xi Jinping made loans of $20 billion to African nations from 2013-2015 when he visited in March 2013.
He also said China will discuss with the African Development Bank the prospect of establishing a joint fund to support infrastructure development.
India has two reasons to take an interest in Africa – it’s deeply concerned about China’s forays into the continent’s strategic and economic space, and it’s also mindful that it requires the support of its 54 nations if it is to realize its ambitions to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. India is a latecomer in Africa, but as a demonstration of its pro-active engagement with the continent, the government this week announced that its trade target with the continent has now been revised upwards to $90 billion by 2015, up from the previous target of $70 billion. The announcement came on March 17, when the India-Africa Business Council met in New Delhi for the first time. The second meeting of India-Africa trade ministers took place the same day. The growing ties between India and African nations has seen bilateral trade soar over the past decade, and India has established a number of pan-African institutions under the umbrella of the India-Africa Forum Summit for capacity building and human resource development across many areas, including the India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade, the India-Africa Diamond Institute, the India-Africa Institute of Educational Planning and Administration and the India-Africa Civil Aviation Academy. Yet another institution, the India-Africa Business Council, was launched on March 17, with a brief to put in place a vibrant mechanism for enhancing economic and commercial relations between the two sides, especially in areas including agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, railways, energy and petroleum and natural gas. As of now, India is in no position to take on China in Africa. But the Indians are clearly making a concerted pitch to win friends and influence people there.