At a manufacturing centre near South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay, locals and Chinese investors are working together to bring out the city’s industrial potential.
A manufacturing centre in the Coega Industrial Development Zone built with a $100 million investment from Chinese automaker First Auto Work (FAW) has become an example of sustained Sino-African economic relations.
China’s trade and economic cooperation with Africa has played a positive role in the continent’s development, Commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said when responding to a question concerning recent claims made by Nigerian central bank governor Lamido Sanusi.
The governor wrote earlier this month in the Financial Times that “Africa must shake off its romantic view of China, accept Beijing as a competitor as much as a partner and realise that it is capable of the same exploitative practices as the old colonial powers.”
Cooperation between China and Africa covers not only traditional areas like agriculture and mining, but also modern industries like manufacturing, financing, real estate and tourism, according to Shen.
Gregory Billson, a consultant specialising in the policies of South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, said investments by Chinese enterprises, including FAW, Sinosteel and Hisense, in South Africa had been made in tandem with local economic development strategies.
They have helped upgrade South Africa’s manufacturing sector, as well as boosted local economic growth, Billson said.
The FAW centre in South Africa is expected to create 500 jobs for locals. It will also boost the construction, services and logistics industries, said Noxolo Kiviet, premier of Eastern Cape province, where Nelson Mendela Bay is located.
According to Commerce ministry data, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa had reached $20 billion by 2012, with $3 billion added to the total last year.
Chinese companies have not only pumped money into the continent’s booming industrial sector, but also helped to train a considerable number of management and technical professionals.
Data from the Sinosteel Corporation indicates that the company, one of the first Chinese businesses to enter Africa through direct investment, has 4,000 local employees working in its South African joint venture. At China Construction Bank’s Johannesburg branch, two-thirds of the staff are from South Africa.
Eighty per cent of the staff of the South African subsidiary of the Hisense Group, a Chinese consumer electronics firm, are local residents.
Hisense has also vowed to use 1 per cent of its annual profits to improve social welfare in South Africa. The company co-sponsored the SEED initiative under the United Nations Environment Programme in 2011, a project that aims to help local start-ups boost growth and eradicate poverty.
Today’s Africa is a sea of opportunity, said Jan de Bruyn, board member of the Coega Development Corporation.
China will continue its role as a staunch supporter of Africa’s development, President Xi Jinping said in a joint interview with Xinhua and media outlets from BRICS countries.
“No matter how the international landscape changes, China will continue to support and promote Africa’s efforts to achieve peace, stability, prosperity and development, seek strength through unity and participate in international affairs on the basis of equality,” Xi said.
The newly-elected president of China started his tour of Africa on March 22 and winds it up on March 30. He will also attend the fifth Brics summit on March 26 and 27 in Durban, South Africa, according to the Foreign ministry.
Meanwhile President Xi Jinping has given a joint interview to Xinhua News Agency and media from the other four Brics countries ahead of his first state visit abroad. Besides his trip to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo, the president is also scheduled to attend the fifth leaders’ meeting of Brics, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
During the Interview, he talked about China’s bilateral relations with other countries, China-Africa relations, cooperation within the Brics and China’s opening-up and reform policies.