China, the third biggest economy in the world, and Africa, home to much of the world’s natural resources, have made a strategic alliance of sorts in the Red Sea coastal city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
The third Conference of African and Chinese Entrepreneurs along with the fourth Ministerial Conference on Africa-China Cooperation brought together senior Egyptian, African and Chinese officials along with some 800 businessmen to negotiate cooperation prospects in these regions.
During the past decade, China has developed a great interest in cooperating with African countries. Focus on Africa is the natural outcome of China’s need to open new markets for its products and services and to sustain a flow of natural resources as well as energy to fuel its economic and industrial growth for the next decades.
The volume of Chinese direct investment into the continent has exceeded $7.8 billion, which stands for almost 10% of total Chinese investment overseas. Despite the repercussions of the economic crisis, the first quarter of 2009 has seen a 77.5% increase in Chinese investment in Africa. The number of Chinese companies operating in Africa has reached 1,600, conducting activities in various economic fields at a worth of $17 billion.
Al Ahram Weekly reported that China’s premier Wen Jiabao expressed his country’s resolve to engage in closer economic ties with Africa. "We should work hard to encourage more African exports into China, help more Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa, combine economic cooperation and trade with technology transfer and take active steps to train technical and managerial personnel for African countries."