China's increasing investment in Africa is a good thing for the continent, the European Investment Bank President Philippe Maystadt said on Thursday.
"That's a good thing because the needs are enormous," Maystadt said at a press conference, "I mean the financial needs are so large in Africa that if there are more resources available outside the traditional sources, then all the better."
Maystadt made the remarks as President Hu Jintao was on an eight-nation African tour, a move aimed at promoting relations between China and African countries, especially in the economic field.
Based on the principle of mutual benefit, the Chinese government is encouraging its financial institutions and companies to reach out to Africa. Over the years, China has also provided African countries with aid without any political conditions attached. As its economic strength grows, China is gradually scaling up assistance to African countries.
Ahead of Hu's visit, China pledged to double aid and offer US$5 billion in loans and credits to the generally underdeveloped continent by 2009.
Although China's practice of providing unconditional aid and loans to Africa was criticized by western countries who always link investment with political reform and human rights issue, it was widely welcome by those countries who need help.
The latest report from the World Bank said China's investment in Africa is playing a positive role in boosting African economic growth and such impact will be greater in the future.
Maystadt acknowledged that his institution is losing projects in Africa to Chinese banks.
"There's been a few projects (in Africa) that we were working on and which in the end were financed by Chinese banks," Maystadt told reporters during the presentation of the EIB's 2006 results.
The EIB is the EU's long-term financing institutions. The bank, owned by EU member states and located in Luxemburg, is mainly to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of EU members. It lent a total of 45.8 billion euros in 2006, mostly within the EU.
(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2007)