African bank chief calls for bigger cash influx

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am

African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka yesterday dismissed concerns about China's investment in Africa, as the financial institution ended its first annual meeting in Asia.

'My concern about Chinese investment in Africa is that there is not enough of it,' he said. 'I want to see more investment flowing into Africa, wherever it comes from.'

He forecast that Africa's economy would grow 6.5 per cent this year, in part because of demand for resources and trade with Asia.

China's cumulative investment in Africa was US$11.7 billion by the end of last year while bilateral trade reached US$55.5 billion, according to mainland figures.

Some critics have questioned Beijing's motives for massive planned aid and investment in Africa, calling it neo-colonialism.

They say Beijing's push to secure oil and other natural resources threatens to bring environmental problems, human rights abuses, rising debt levels and corruption.

'I would encourage people to get rid of their mood of finger-pointing. With engagement, [we] attract more business into Africa,' Mr Kaberuka said.

China's central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan admitted some Chinese investments were risky, improper, or had caused conflict with African governments or people. He said the government wanted to ensure investment was mutually beneficial and environmentally sound.

'Corporate investment, private investment will gradually move into a correct direction to provide much more bilateral and multilateral benefits to the Chinese investors and especially African countries,' he said.

Aiuba Cuereneia, minister of planning and development for Mozambique, said it was not the role of the African Development Bank to vet deals between the mainland and its members.

'Co-operation has to be negotiated bilaterally between the recipient countries and China. I don't think there is a need for the African Development Bank to police the relations between China and the countries.'

China already has pledged to double assistance to Africa by 2009, provide US$5 billion in preferential loans and buyers' credits and cancel debt.

At the meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to meet these targets. Another official said the government was drawing up the preferential loan package although he did not indicate when it would be ready.