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Turning African dreams into reality

Updated: 2013-06-14 13:23
By Zhang Yuwei in Libreville, Gabon ( China Daily)

Turning African dreams into reality

A group of nearly 20 Chinese business leaders from the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and construction industries gathered in Libreville, Gabon, on Thursday to discuss investment in Africa.

"Enhancing communication, building trust, exploring more win-win opportunities and, of course, working hand-in-hand to find solutions to problems are the most crucial," said Zheng Yuewen, chairman of China-Africa Business Council. "We need to keep a healthy cooperative relationship with Africa."

The session, with the theme "Turn Opportunities into Reality in Africa", was one of the council's quarterly meetings, which are usually held at its headquarters in Beijing.

This meeting of the group led by Zheng was held on site in Libreville during their participation in the second edition of the New York Forum AFRICA conference this weekend.

Established in 2006, CABC, a non-governmental organization, is a joint effort between the United Nations Development Programme and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges.

Now with more than 200 members including some big names such as Huawei and Lenovo, representing a wide range of industries, from construction to manufacturing, the council engages in linking more opportunities in Africa to privately owned small and medium-sized companies in China.

Zheng calls the small and medium-sized companies the "future driving force" for Chinese investment in the African continent, adding that they will not only contribute to local growth, but also pass on their own experience to Africans, which will help turn investments into sustainable growth.

"China and Africa actually form a 'natural match' in this regard," said Zheng. "China and Africa are complementary to each other. It can relate to China in many areas and that makes a special connection," he explained. Investments, he added, have been expanding into cement, electronics, clothing and shoe production.

Africa is now home to some 2,000 Chinese companies across all sectors. Last year Chinese investment in 50 of the continent's 54 countries totaled $2.9 billion with an average annual growth rate of 50 percent, according to China's National Development and Reform Commission.

During the three-day forum, the CABC group will take the opportunity to mingle with some of the 1,000 participants, including business leaders and politicians from across the globe.

The forum this year will also host a summit of the six heads of state of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC), whose members are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo.

Zheng said the group is not a bunch of businessmen coming here and "looking"; most of them have projects either in Gabon or other African countries.

Chen Lin, president of Hong Kong Construction Materials Engineering Ltd, is one of the Chinese participants. Chen is not looking but making more contacts at the forum to possibly expand his business. Next year his company is set to launch a four-year, $900 million project to build, what Chen calls, a Chinatown in Essassa, Libreville.

The company will put up 5,000 apartments, 40 percent of which will be part of a government housing project, and the rest for commercial purposes. The area will also have a school, hospital and shops.

"There are many potential opportunities for Chinese companies and we want to explore them while contributing something positive to the local economy, such as apartments for the government's housing project," said Chen.

"The development plan is done. We will hire at least 1,000 local workers on this project to start with."


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