According to a survey released by the Global Development Policy Center of Boston University in early March, China Development Bank (CDB) granted USD 25.6 billion in loans to global energy projects last year, of which nearly one third (USD 6.8 billion) went to African countries. In fact, China plays an important role not only in energy but also in various fields of infrastructure construction in Africa.
// The conductor was checking passenger tickets on a train of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway on March 25, 2018. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, the first modern electrified transnational railway in Africa built by Chinese enterprises with complete Chinese standards and equipment, was put into commercial operation in January 2018. (Xinhua/Wang Shoubao)
1. How poor is Africa's infrastructure?
Affected by such factors as economy, politics and history, sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to about one-seventh of the world's population, is the world's worst performer in almost all areas concerning infrastructure.
The region lags far behind other developing regions in terms of the quantity of major infrastructure. In 2015, the median number of fixed broadband users per 100 Africans was only 0.19.
Besides, Africa also lags far behind in terms of the availability of infrastructure, and the availability of electricity (the proportion of people with access to electricity in the total population) is only 35%.
Among the three major macroeconomic challenges, the first one for Africa is the backward infrastructure construction.
2. How large is the funding gap for Africa's infrastructure?
The improvement of Africa's infrastructure requires a lot of money. However, due to the financial constraints of African countries and insufficient private investment, there is still a large funding gap in infrastructure. Public investment constitutes the bulk of financial resources for infrastructure construction in Africa. More than half of the annual infrastructure investment of about USD 45 billion is provided by governments.
Public-private partnership (PPP), a popular mode of infrastructure construction in western countries, is being accepted by African governments. But on the whole, PPP is still a very small force in the African infrastructure market.
// This is the Brazzaville Stadium built by China, photographed in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo on June 10, 2018 (aerial photo). (Xinhua/Wang Teng)
3. How great is the contribution of Chinese funds?
Against the backdrop of insufficient domestic public funds and private investment, overseas financing has become an important source of infrastructure construction in Africa. From Zambia's Tanzania-Zambia Railway in the 1970s to Kenya's Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway last year, China has become an important force in Africa's infrastructure construction.
According to a report released by McKinsey & Company in June last year, China is the largest overseas financer for Africa in infrastructure construction investment. China's cumulative infrastructure investment in Africa has reached USD 21 billion, far beyond the second-ranked France at USD 3 billion and the third-ranked Japan at USD 2 billion.
China's infrastructure investment projects in Africa involve railways, highways, ports, oil and gas fields, and power plants. Chinese enterprises are characterized by the main advantages of low costs and fast project delivery. In the past 30 years, the rapid development of China's infrastructure construction has spawned a large number of Chinese engineering contractors with cost advantages compared with their international counterparts. Even in public bidding projects sponsored by the World Bank, Chinese-funded enterprises are still big winners, with a bid winning rate of 42%. According to some African officials, Chinese enterprises have prominent competitive advantages on infrastructure construction projects. Other officials also revealed that under the same qualification and strength, the offers of Chinese enterprises are often 40% lower than those of the second-lowest bidders.
4: How important is it for China to engage in infrastructure construction in Africa?
In recent years, China and Africa have carried out a slew of major cooperation projects in the field of infrastructure construction. China introducing capital, technologies, equipment manufacturing and management experience to Africa has improved the level of infrastructure in Africa, promoted the rapid development of the local economy, and made tangible contributions to improving the production and living conditions of the people in African countries.
However, China's investment in Africa also sparks controversies. Due to the rapid growth of investment, some people insist that the ultimate motivation for China to help Africa is its demand for natural resources, and they are dedicated to promoting the "China threat theory".
In fact, China has always been a responsible and rising power in the international community that is willing to assume its responsibilities towards the world.
In 2014, when the Ebola crisis struck West Africa, China was firmly rushing to the front line of the global battle against Ebola. In 2017, when many African countries were hit by a food crisis, it was also the Chinese government that timely gave a hand, donating more than 30,000 tons of food to Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Chad. At present, COVID-19 keeps spreading around the world. In this case, China pays close attention to the situation of epidemic prevention and control in Africa, and offers anti-epidemic materials to the African Union and all African countries that have established diplomatic relations in batches. Experts on both sides have conducted multiple video exchanges. Many Chinese enterprises and non-governmental organizations have also actively done what they can do to help African countries. All the efforts have won praise from African countries.
These assistance measures provided by China to Africa have shown Chinese wisdom with the root of the dedication and love. It is true for "China Speed". China does not intend to be the so-called "infrastructure maniac", but to practice the concept of a community of a shared future for mankind with practical actions, and fight side by side with the international community to overcome the difficulties.
Source: Xinhuanet, CCTV News, Jiemian.com, Changsha Evening News, and Jin10.com