China is poised to invest billions of dollars in Africa through a multilateral institution in Beijing’s first ever departure from its “cheque book” policy of bilateral deals on the continent.
Beijing and the African Development Bank, the continent’s biggest development lender, will this week unveil a $2bn investment vehicle, called the “Africa Growing Together Fund”, which officials say marks a symbolic shift from previous Chinese practice.
“China has been using a bilateral route in Africa. Now it is taking a more multilateral [approach],” said an official familiar with the project. The fund will be signed off this week during the annual meeting of the AfDB in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.
The fund appears to be part of a broader effort by Beijing to recalibrate its relations with Africa in response to criticism inside and outside the continent. Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, acknowledged during his first trip to the continent this month that the relationship between Beijing and its African partners had suffered “growing pains”. But he rejected accusations that Beijing was pursuing a neocolonialist policy in Africa.
“I wish to assure our African friends, in all seriousness, that China will never pursue a colonialist path like some countries did or allow colonialism, which belonged to the past, to reappear in Africa,” he said. “For China and Africa, co-operation means opportunities, co-operation is win-win,” he said.