The two-day Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit kicked off in Johannesburg on Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping announcing a $60 billion development aid for Africa.
This received a round of applause from African heads of state with President Robert Mugabe describing Mr. Xi as a God-given friend of Africa.
Over 30 African heads of state attended the official opening of the FOCAC summit. Many of them were eager to hear what China will put on the table to help their ailing economies.
And Chinese President Xi Jinping did not disappoint, outlining a 10-point cooperation package accompanied by a huge financial injection.
“To ensure the successful implementation of the 10 cooperation plans, China decides to provide a total of $60 billion of funding support,” he said.
The money will be used for Africa’s industrialization, agricultural programs, development of small and medium enterprises, poverty alleviation programs, education and health, among others.
President Xi also insisted that China was treating Africa as an equal partner. He also emphasized that Africa should not be dictated to but assisted to solve African problems in an African way.
This impressed an upbeat President Robert Mugabe calling Mr. Xi a God-sent person.
Mr. Mugabe said, “There you are. Here is a man. He is doing to us what we expected those who colonized us yesterday to do. If they have ears to hear, let them hear.”
In his speech to the summit, President Mugabe went on to praise China saying relations between China and the continent have stood the test of time. Mr. Mugabe took a swipe at critics of China-Africa relationship.
“Once again our detractors have sought to portray and reduce our relations to purely commercial ties, on the contrary, reality fortunately does not conform to such distorted imaginative creations.”
Chinese expert, Yun Sun, a non-resident fellow in the Africa Growth Initiative, which focuses on China’s relations with Africa and U.S.-China cooperation at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C. told VOA the relationship between Africa and China is no longer just being dictated by Beijing despite sentiments to the contrary.
“I think Africa is having a bigger voice in terms of determining the agenda of the summit and also telling China what Africa wants from China other than China determining the course of the summit and the substance of the agreements,” she said.
On Friday the summit exhibited photos showing FOCAC achievements and also held a China-Africa manufacturing exhibition. There was also a high-level business engagement with heads of state and government.
On Saturday, the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS will hold its session followed by the closing ceremony of the summit.
South African President Zuma and his Chinese counterpart are co-chairing the summit.