Chinese investment in African agricultural development came under discussion at this year’s Summit on Trade and Investment, held by the non-profit organization the World Agricultural Forum. One of the speakers was Adama Gaye, a Senegalese journalist and author of a book on China’s relationship with Africa. He said China is investing in Africa’s agricultural development as part of its interest in Africa’s natural resources, including oil and minerals.
Voice of America English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard reached Gaye in Lome, Togo. He said 48 African countries sent delegations, some at a very high level, to the first China-Africa summit, held in Beijing in November 2006. Gaye said the delegates discussed farming, animal husbandry, irrigation, fisheries, agricultural machinery, and the processing of agricultural products – and worked on mapping out a strategic economic partnership.
Gaye says China has sent 100 senior experts on agricultural technology to Africa and set up 10 specialized [demonstration] centers so Africans can benefit from Chinese expertise.
The Senegalese journalist and author says since the agreement in November, more experts have been sent all over Africa. He says as part of China’s outbound investment policy, the China Development Bank is to share financial expertise and promote investment. These steps, he says, are a result of China’s decision to encourage ”its companies and its technology to go abroad, especially in Africa, in order to get new market shares.”
Gaye says Chinese agricultural investment is still in the early stage. They include identifying a center for diplomatic activity, as well as identifying locations for five export processing zones.
CHINA’S POLITICAL OUTREACH
Gaye says other signs of progress include the visit in January 2007 of Chinese President Hu Jintao to eight African countries. Since then a number of delegations have gone to Africa, including groups from the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture, ”to translate into practice the commitment that was reached during the China-Africa summit.”
The Senegalese author says that in return for its agricultural investment, China is mainly interested in getting more equity in Africa‘s energy sector and natural resources: “Basically, it’s a trade-off.”