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Amid Uganda airport takeover reports, China announces economic sops for Africa

Both the China and the US are pushing into the continent

china-Xi-Jinping Chinese President Xi Jinping

Hitting back against multiple media reports which highlighted China's 'debt trap' in play in Uganda, President Xi Jinping has offered up a slew of incentives, including one billion COVID-19 vaccines, waiver of debt and creation of eight lakh jobs in the African continent. Multiple local reports had claimed that China was about to seize control of Entebbe, the only international airport in Uganda, after their government failed to pay back loans to Beijing. The East African nation borrowed $200 million from the Export-Import Bank of China to expand the Entebbe airport, Bloomberg reported. However, both China and Ugandan authorities have rubbished the claims. 

A great fight for control is taking place in Africa currently. Both the China and the US are pushing into the continent, jostling for influence, with Xi on Monday telling a meeting of African leaders that China joins them in opposing racism and external interference in domestic affairs. "We both oppose intervention in domestic affairs, racial discrimination and unilateral sanctions," he said addressing the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation via a video link.

"To help the AU [African Union] achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, I announce that China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries," Xi said. In addition, China will undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa, he said.

The meeting took place amid efforts by US President Joe Biden's initiative of Build Back Better World (B3W), which was seen as rival to Xi's multibillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with a focus on developing countries especially the African countries.

Offering vast variety of benefits, Xi said, China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than $10 billion in Africa in the next three years, and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion, he said. China will undertake 10 industrialisation and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of $10 billion to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB centre, he said.

China will exempt African LDCs (least developed countries) from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2021. China is ready to channel to African countries $10 billion from its share of the IMF's new allocation of Special Drawing Rights, he said.

China will continue to work with African countries to set up Luban Workshops, and encourage Chinese companies in Africa to create at least 8,00,000 local jobs, he said. Also China will help build or upgrade 10 schools in Africa, and invite 10,000 high-level African professionals to seminars and workshops, he said.


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