III. Attaching Importance to Infrastructure Construction
As backward infrastructure is the bottleneck that hinders the development of many African countries, infrastructure construction is one important aspect of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. China attaches importance to giving support to African countries to improve their infrastructure, helping them build houses, roads, bridges, railways, airports, ports, telecommunications, power networks, water supply and drainage systems, and hospitals through means such as assistance, project contracting, investment cooperation, and expanding channels of financing, which have positive effects on the development of Africa. China encourages and supports its enterprises to participate in the infrastructure construction of African countries, asking them to finish the projects with guaranteed quality and on the basis of honoring contracts and upholding a fine reputation.
China has helped African countries build a large number of infrastructure projects over the years. In the 1970s China, despite its own economic hardship, provided assistance for the construction of the 1,860-km-long Tanzania-Zambia railway, which is historical evidence of China's selfless help to Africa. The Cairo International Conference Center, aided by China, covers a floor space of 58,000 sq m and hosts more than a hundred international meetings and exhibitions each year, promoting the development of local business and tourism. By the end of 2009, China had provided assistance for the construction of over 500 infrastructure projects in Africa. Other large projects include the Belet Uen-Burao Highway in Somalia, the Friendship Harbor in Mauritania, the Mashta al Anad-Ben Jarw Canal in Tunisia, and the National Stadium in Tanzania. The Convention Center of the African Union and a few other projects are under construction now.
In order to help African countries to improve their infrastructure, the Chinese government has offered many preferential loans, and supports its financial institutions to expand the amount of commercial loans to Africa. China has constantly intensified its efforts in financing for Africa since the establishment of the FOCAC. From 2007 to 2009, China provided US$5 billion of preferential loans and preferential export buyer's credit to Africa. It has also promised to provide US$10 billion of preferential loans to Africa from 2010 to 2012. These loans are to be used to finance some of the big projects under construction, such as an airport in Mauritius, housing in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and the Bui Hydropower Station in Ghana.
Chinese engineering companies, in line with international norms, contract projects in Africa through competitive bidding, and help build many needed infrastructure projects with good quality and at low cost. Such projects as houses, roads, airports, refineries, telecommunication networks and hydropower stations are being expanded with improved technology. The Chinese enterprises, from bidding on their own to joint bidding with international businesses, display their strength in Africa and improve their capacity in international management while accumulating experiences and cultivating skilled people. The China-aided large-scale projects which have already been completed include the Sheraton Hotel in Algeria, the telecommunications network in Ethiopia and the Merowe Dam in Sudan. Projects under construction include housing in Angola, a coastal railway in Libya and a light rail in Lagos, Nigeria.
Chinese enterprises undertake social responsibilities on their own initiative, and actively participate in programs benefiting local people, which have won them appreciation of the local governments and people. They have provided funds to build roads, bridges, hospitals and schools, and to sink wells. They have also donated materials to make a positive contribution to the development of local communities. For example, the programs for the public good organized by Chinese enterprises have benefited over two million people in Sudan, the friendship schools China aided in Nigeria promoted elementary education in 300 villages, and vocational training centers in Angola and Libya turn out large numbers of skilled workers.