The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is significant in enhancing the multifaceted cooperation between Africa and China, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe has said.
Membe, who told Xinhua in an interview ahead of the July 19-20 fifth FOCAC ministerial conference in Beijing, said the forum played a significant role in bolstering cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, health and education.
Africa was happy that China had engaged with any country that had sought cooperation, and that it had invested in all major economic sectors, the minister said.
He said China also supported development in Africa by providing soft loans and grants for construction, infrastructure, agriculture, education and health projects.
Most African countries depended greatly on the Chinese loans, which had terms as long as 30 years, he said, adding "this is an attraction to most African business communities or investors or governments."
The Chinese had proved to be true friends of Africans by investing on the continent and keeping the relationship with it regardless of the difficult circumstances and the challenges it faced, he said.
"China is the greatest ally of the African continent," he said. No matter whether a country was devastated by civil war, drought, floods or disease, the Chinese would be there,” the minister said.
Speaking on behalf of his own country, Membe said Tanzania enjoyed the close ties it had with China.
The Tanzania-Zambia railway and the Julius Nyerere Conference Centre, both built by the Chinese, were some of the fruits of the excellent relations between the two countries, he said.
The win-win relationship of the two countries was demonstrated by the strong trade and business increases seen in recent years, Membe said.
In response to this welcoming trend, Tanzania would open another office in China's southern city of Guangzhou "to make sure the relationship and the trade volume expand," Membe said.
Meanwhile, South African Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies has said his country will participate in the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) slated for Beijing beginning tomorrow.
The South African delegates in the conference will focus on promoting its exports to China and China's investments in key sectors in South Africa, such as mining, agro-processing, financial service, energy, information and communication, the South Africa's networks website reported.
It will be the first FOCAC ministerial conference in the second decade of the 21st century, with an expectation of reviewing the implementation of plans made by the fourth FOCAC ministerial conference held in Egypt in 2009 as well as examining and adopting the Beijing Declaration and Beijing Action Plan for 2013-2015 to define new cooperative programmes to be carried out over the next three years.
The conference will be attended by the government leaders, officials and business delegates, aimed at promoting joint cooperation between Chinese and African enterprises and development of bilateral economic and trade relations.
Davies said: "China has become a key development investor and donor in Africa by supporting Africa's regional integration programmes and initiatives to fasttrack Africa's economic growth and sustainable development in line with the priorities on the African continent."
"From the broader continent perspective, the strategic partnership has resulted in a substantial increase in trade between Africa and China amounting to approximately USD166bn in 2011," the minister said.
Davies said: "The focus of this year's conference will be on building on past achievements and opening up new prospects for the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership."
"The conference is particularly significant for us, as South Africa will take over as African co-chair from Egypt for the next three years," the minister said.
On July 4, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Tian Xuejun said China's investment in Africa exceeds USD40bn, and over 2,000 Chinese enterprises are doing business in nearly 50 African countries, covering a wide range of areas, including mining, financing, manufacturing, construction, tourism and agriculture.
"China is the world's largest developing country and Africa is home to the largest number of the developing countries. The establishment of FOCAC is the greatest creation of China-Africa relations, and it will further promote China-Africa cooperation," the ambassador said.