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Chinese Premier Begins Africa Tour


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is beginning a five-day seven-nation tour of Africa that takes him to Egypt, Ghana, Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Premier Wen's visit is the first in 42 years by a Chinese prime minister, signaling the growing trade relations between the two countries, China is one of Ghana's largest foreign investors.

President John Kufuor's government has consistently used the top Asian economies as yardsticks by which Ghana's own economy should grow.

Kwabena Anaman, a research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Ghana, says Ghana's economy is growing at around 5.8 percent, but the government wants to increase that rate to around eight percent.

Anaman says Ghana can learn from studying China.

"So, if you want to grow at eight percent, you should look at what is happening in China right now," he said. "The state still has a big interest in production and exchange. The state is a major means by which it produces and invests, both in China and other countries. We [Ghana] can learn from the Chinese experience by the state still being a player in the economy."

Critics have raised concerns about China's quest for more raw materials from Africa in exchange for cheap Chinese exports. In Ghana, the influx of cheap goods from China has been a source of worry for local manufacturers, especially in the textile industry, which is unable to compete.

Analyst Anaman says, to be competitive, Ghana must invest in infrastructure.

"The issue is that we have to also make an effort to be more productive," he added. "What we have to do is to build an extensive infrastructure in terms of water, electricity, road, so that we can bring down the cost of producing things. You know, in Ghana, a major problem is instability in the electricity supply, and if you have instability it increases cost."

The Chinese premier, leading a high-powered government delegation, holds talks with President Kufuor, and the two leaders will witness the signing of several bilateral agreements on economic and technological cooperation between China and Ghana.

On Monday, they will inaugurate a road project, renovated with an interest-free loan from China.

Ghana is hailing the growing trade relations with China as significant, and says the visit will further enhance the existing close ties between the two countries.

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