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US Vice President Kamala Harris to Tour Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, discuss China influence, debt distress in Africa

This weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris begins a three-country tour of Africa as the United States seeks to pitch itself as a better partner than China, which has invested heavily in the continent over several decades.

Harris will be in Ghana from March 26 to 29, and then in Tanzania from March 29 to 31. Her final stop is Zambia, where she will be from March 31 to April 1. She will meet the three countries’ presidents and plan to announce public and private sector investments.

Harris will discuss China’s engagement in technology and economic issues in Africa concerning the US, as well as China’s involvement in debt restructuring, senior US officials said.

Zambia, the first African country to default on its sovereign debt during the COVID-19 pandemic, is working with its creditors, including China, to reach an agreement.

“We’re not asking our partners in Africa to choose,” an official told Reuters news agency, describing the competition with China. However, he added that the US has “real concerns about some of China’s behavior in Africa” and its “opaque” business dealings.

The official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Harris would discuss the best ways for the international community to address debt challenges faced by Ghana and Zambia.

The White House hosted an Africa Leaders Summit in December, and President Joe Biden is expected to travel to the continent later this year.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Ethiopia and Niger this March, less than a year after visiting South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Morocco, Algeria and Rwanda.

The slew of recent engagements is a deviation from Washington’s stance under Biden’s predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump, who largely ignored the continent, and it comes as Russia deepens military engagements across Francophone Africa.

Harris, who visited her maternal grandfather as a little girl while he worked there, is “looking forward to returning to Lusaka, which is a part of her family’s story and a source of pride”, one of the officials said.

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World Water Day 2023: Accelerating Change in solving Africa’s Water and Sanitation Crises

Water is an essential resource with a direct impact on Africa’s economic potential: inadequate access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services reduces economic opportunities.

One in three Africans is affected by water scarcity. According to the 2022 WHO/UNICEF JMP report [1], 411 million people in Africa still lack basic drinking water service, 779 million lack access to basic sanitation services and 839 million lack access to basic hygiene.

Climate change is causing water scarcity and drought, leading to projected water scarcity for close to 230 million Africans and as many as 460 million living in areas where the demand for water periodically exceeds the available supply by 2025. This also impacts food and energy security as the continent’s population continues to grow. Water access remains a matter of concern and efficiency in water use is now a crucial issue.

The theme of World Water Day 2023, “Accelerating change” is a wake-up call to do even more to solve water and sanitation crises. We need collective and urgent action by governments, regional associations, and global development partners. We must also consider the complex interplay between water and energy supply and demand, food ecosystems and the impacts of climate change to address the diverse needs and use of water, develop innovative ideas, and optimize finance in the water sector.

This year’s World Water Day also coincides with the United Nations midterm review of the Water Action Decade. This provides an opportunity for leaders, governments, and corporations to pause, reflect and determine urgent actions that are needed to increase the speed of progress in the delivery of universal access to water and sanitation. Together, these commitments form the Water Action Agenda that will be launched at the UN 2023 Water Conference (22-24 March) – the first event of its kind in nearly 50 years.

Within the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, water security underpins food security (agriculture represents 70% of total water consumption), energy security (high dependence on hydropower, and water is an input for other sources of energy), industrialization (water as a key input and catalyst), regional integration (through transboundary waters) and particularly improving the quality of life for the people of Africa (impacts on health, nutrition, education, gender equity, and livelihoods). The bank’s Water Policy is built on a vision to improve Africa’s water security and transform water assets to foster sustainable, green, and inclusive socio-economic growth and development.

In 2022, our water and sanitation portfolio of $473 million provided water access to an estimated 6.8 million people, and jobs to over 24,000 people in Africa

Massive investments in integrated water development and management are central to achieving sustainable water, food, and energy security while assuring green and inclusive growth. In 2022, our water and sanitation portfolio of $473 million provided water access to an estimated 6.8 million people, and jobs to over 24,000 people in Africa.

Over the last 10 years, the bank has also invested approximately $5.2 billion in the water sector to support and strengthen water and sanitation resilience for almost 97 million people in Africa. Since 2015, the bank has invested an average of $900 million a year.

In Kenya, projects like the Kenya Towns Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Program have improved the quality of life for beneficiaries such as Emmaculate Anyango, who used to walk two kilometers to fetch water for cooking, drinking, and other domestic uses. The program initiated projects to ensure access to clean, safe, and consistent water supply in 28 small towns in Kenya. For instance, the Oyugis Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which was completed in January 2023, already serves over 60,000 people by producing 12,000 cubic meters of water each day.

Towards 2030 and beyond, the African Development Bank will continue to work with and support African countries to drive the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets. It will do this through financing, sector reforms and governance, knowledge generation, partnerships and private sector engagement, environmental and social responsibility, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Let’s all play our part and be the change!

 

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Visas in Africa are Barriers to Trade and Movement, Says President Ruto

President William Ruto has urged African countries to rethink their visa regimes to boost intra-Africa trade and position the continent for true transformation.

African governments, the President said, should facilitate “people-to-people, business-to-business and government-to-government affairs,” not create barriers.

“The people who introduced visas to Africa have abandoned them. In Europe today, citizens of the 27 countries in the European Union don’t need visas to travel from one country to the other,” he said.

He spoke on Thursday when he met President Emerson Mnangagwa’s special envoy, Ambassador Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, at State House Nairobi.

President Ruto said he will hold discussions with his Zimbabwean counterpart on a visa-free regime between the two countries.

He also said they will discuss the need for more flights from Nairobi to Harare and vice versa.

President Ruto said Kenya opposes the continued economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, adding that they are unnecessary.

“At a time of economic difficulty, climate change effects, and pandemics, sanctions only exacerbate the burden on the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.

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Sports News: African Rugby is Big Business, Let’s Stop Pretending it is not- Herbert Mensah

African Rugby needs to respect itself and behave in a “world-class” fashion before it can be respected by the rest of the world.

African sports have been forgotten by the world.

More so, it seems that African sports have been forgotten by Africans. In the world of rugby, in particular, there are countries across the continent that haven’t had active rugby leagues in more than three years!

Nothing is more demonstrative of this sentiment than the very view that World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, has of African sports. Last year, World Rugby awarded just $2 million to promote the sport across the whole African continent. This is an absurdly small amount for a whole Continent, but what is more telling is the way it undervalues the African continent more than anything else. We see evidence of this when this same organization is willing to award $5 million, or $6 million dollars per year, to a Rugby Europe country while leaving the entire African continent with scraps to promote Rugby to a population of over 1.2 billion.

This fact alone is telling of how little respect is given to African rugby by the world and it is inevitable that we ask ourselves, if that respect shouldn’t first come from us, Africans. We have the same governing bodies that rich Western nations have, the associations, the managers, the boards, the board meetings, but what is it all for if they are mostly populated by “friends of friends in high places” and if they have no monetary support to act on any of the decisions they might take?

We need to remind ourselves of the power and the value of Sports. It is Big Business ergo Rugby, is Big Business!

I’ve dedicated my life to running various businesses in and outside Africa and if there is one thing that drives any business, it is money. We cannot continue to act like African sport is a charity case in need of aid. I profoundly believe in H.E. The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo’s vision of an Africa Post-Aid, and Post-charity!

That is my vision for African rugby, rugby post-aid.

The path to achieving that is no mystery. We all know it, even if most times we are unwilling to admit it. Rugby is Big Business, and it needs to be run like a business. It is that simple. That is the only way there will be capital to promote the sport and make it grow. Capital generates capital. We need to improve our governance track record across the board, get better managers that will drive the business forward, and raise capital to give them the tools to do their jobs right.

READ ALSO: https://africandevmag.net/2023/03/14/herbert-mensah-announces-candidacy-for-president-of-rugby-africa-promise-good-representation/

The world of rugby sees Africa as one big poor country. This must end.  The diversity of the continent’s nations is manifested equally in its sports cultures. We need to adjust our tactics to the specificities of each market and each region. We need to brand ourselves and promote ourselves to the world, making ourselves worthy of notice and respect. Only then will we be able to demand from global organizations the respect and capital we deserve?

Herbert Amponsah Mensah
Herbert Amponsah Mensah

That starts with changing our practices, with implementing World-standards to what we do, rather than African standards. We have forgotten the positive impact sports, and sports events can generate. Sports competitions are not about entertainment and physical prowess. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry that generates advertising revenue, tourism inflows, infrastructure development, and investment in a myriad of different economic sectors. It promotes social growth, and on top of it, showcases a country to the world. Sports help to elevate nations, drawing the spotlight on a country worthy of investment, worthy of visiting, and worthy of doing business with. Sports actively contribute to elevating a nation’s economic development and the lives of its citizens.

This is the true potential value of Rugby, and the potential value of treating it as the Big Business that it is.

We need to change the way the world looks at African rugby, by changing the way we operate, and showing our value and potential for growth. The change must start with us! We cannot go begging rich countries to borrow money to start generating money. We need to lobby, we need to organize, we need to engage the political leadership of each nation and region to engage the continental institutions that can help finance these developments. We need to engage the African Union, Ecowas, African-owned Banks, African Development Bank, and the like.

Once we have professionalized the world of rugby and managed to finance ourselves within ourselves, then, and only then, can we look at demanding more from World Rugby, from global advertisers and sponsors, competing side-by-side to bring major international competitions to Africa.

Treating Rugby as Big Business is not reinventing the wheel. Understanding that image, perception, and branding, is everything when we want to attract capital and visitors is nothing new, and yet it has never been done for African rugby. This has meant a loss of hundreds of millions of Dollars and the direct and indirect benefits that could positively affect hundreds of millions of people across the continent.

That is the vision that I will bring to Rugby Africa if my candidacy for its presidency is successful.

This is the first time that there is competition in the election for the Presidency of Rugby Africa.

Let’s make things differently, let’s make it count.

Let’s Make Rugby Africa a Big Business, for the benefit of all.

 

 Herbert Amponsah Mensah is a Ghanaian businessman, sports administrator, and the president of the Ghana Rugby Association operating as the Ghana Rugby Football Union and the Candidate for the presidency of World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa

 

 

 

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Herbert Mensah announces candidacy for President of Rugby Africa, promise good representation

Herbert Mensah, sports administrator, and President of the Ghana Rugby Football Union, today announced his candidacy for President of the World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa, the governing body of rugby in Africa. Rugby Africa will be electing a new president at the Annual General Meeting to be held in Cape Town on 18 March 2023.

The President will be elected for a period of four years commencing immediately after the results are announced by the executive committee on 18 March 2023. This will also be the first time in the history of Rugby Africa that elections will be contested.

The Nigeria Rugby Football Federation nominated Mensah to run for President. Mensah, a current member of the Africa Rugby Executive Committee, is also an accomplished businessman with many years of experience in the business and sports sectors in Africa.

In 2014, Mensah took the helm at the Ghana Rugby Football Union where he significantly increased awareness around the sport while injecting much enthusiasm for players and officials, as well as encouraging the youth to participate in rugby through numerous initiatives and activities. He was instrumental in spearheading the national team’s qualification to the World Series, after they won the West Africa competition, before moving on to the African championship.

Mensah’s vision is to build a positive and strong brand for Rugby Africa and to make rugby more accessible and visible to all Africans, in particular the youth. He would like to see an increase in continental competitions and greater support of member associations in terms of how they are structured and in the economic development of the sport.

Currently, less than 30 percent of rugby players in Africa are women. Mensah’s strategic plan is to broaden the reach and appeal of rugby, raising the profile and image of women rugby players and officials, while ensuring that all structures further reflect the diversity and inclusion of the sport. He also wants to provide greater cohesion between English and French-speaking countries, both in terms of sport and governance.

Commenting on his candidacy Mensah said, “I am extremely humbled to be nominated to run for President, and I am overwhelmed by the good wishes from my colleagues and peers. I am immensely proud as an African, to be given a chance to represent Africa on a global platform. African rugby has historically not received the recognition it deserves, and I look forward to the opportunity to use this platform to create meaningful change, while promoting a better understanding of the game on the continent, and beyond, and to encourage greater support of rugby across the entire African continent. If elected, my tenure will be one marked with service to Africa Rugby and the rugby and sports fraternity at large on the continent.”

2023 Rugby World Cup will be held in France from September to October. Mensah hopes to use this world-class platform to collaborate with leading international rugby bodies and other associations to raise awareness around African Rugby while gaining much-needed support for the sport. Rugby will be one of the first competitions on show at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, where Mensah hopes to see more representation from African teams in the qualifying events.

 

*3news*

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AfCFTA: An opportunity for Africa’s youth to accelerate trade and industrialization

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity for young people to accelerate Africa’s industrialization and economic transformation through entrepreneurship, youths say, calling for an enabling policy framework.

Through its Youth Protocol, the AfCFTA recognises that young people can play a critical role in the achievement of the free trade zone by initiating youth-led initiatives in agriculture, financial technology, IT and in the creative industry.

However, they note that across the youth-dominant trade areas critical to the AfCFTA, the challenges of infrastructure gap, lack of access to modern technologies, funding, electricity and broadband internet keep the youth on the sidelines of the free trade area.

At an online presentation meeting organized by the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), nine young mentees who have completed RITD’s “Youth for AfCFTA Mentorship Programme”, presented their final assignment to senior staff in ECA. The youth participants highlighted that the AfCFTA presented huge entrepreneurship opportunities for them but that governments need to implement supportive policies and investment to ensure their participation.

Ms. Mie Vedel-Joergensen, Associate Expert in Economic Affairs, Market Institutions Section of the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) at the ECA said mentees of the “Youth for AfCFTA Mentorship Programme” are winners of a competition launched in March 2022 which led to the mentorship programme in ECA. The competition with the topic; “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): What is in it for young Africans?” was developed by the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) in collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat, Afreximbank, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and ECA. The competition encouraged participants to develop essays, infographics or animation to communicate the potential impact of the AfCFTA on youth in Africa.

The youth participants highlighted that the AfCFTA presented huge entrepreneurship opportunities for them but that governments need to implement supportive policies and investment

According to YALDA, the competition aimed to break information asymmetry among youth on the AfCFTA and promote a bottom-up approach to the policy formulation and implementation by harnessing innovative youth-driven solutions that will contribute to active youth engagement in the popularization of the AfCFTA.

Noting that young people can influence policy decisions in favour of the AfCFTA in addition to providing labour, Ms. Jessica Debby Ndjadila, mentee of the Essay group, said Africa’s youth understood the technology enablers of the free trade area such as Information Technology, supply chain management, and financial technology.

“African governments should prioritize intellectual property rights protection,” Ms. Ndjadila said, calling for fiscal policies to drive entrepreneurs into content distribution and the democratization of access to broadband connectivity.

Africa also needs to operationalise the  Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a centralized payment and settlement system for intra-African trade in goods and services developed in  2022. The platform would increase the competitiveness of and investment in youth-dominated start-ups in Africa.

Another group of youth developed an infographic to highlight the benefits of gender inclusion in the AfCFTA. Noting that Sub Saharan  Africa was losing an average of $95 billion annually as a result of gender inequality, the youth felt that investment in mobile and digital solutions can bridge the gender gap in Africa where the proportion of women using the internet was 25% lower than men.

“Implementation of the AfCFTA would increase employment opportunities and wages for unskilled workers and help close the gender wage gap,” said Mr. Richard Muraya, a youth whose group developed an infographic highlighting the opportunity cost of gender inclusion in the AfCFTA.

Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of Regional Integration and Trade Division at ECA said young people fully understand what the AfCFTA is all about and their information products should be promoted in giving policymakers the right narrative about the free trade area. Besides, the youth have well demonstrated the potential of the AfCFTA and the issues that must be addressed by the protocols developed for the realization of the free trade area.

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African Countries gear up for business as China reopens market

After three years of closed borders under its strict “zero-COVID” policy, China reopened its doors to allow international travelers in — and Chinese with cabin fever out — a move with economic implications around the world, including in Africa.

On the continent, which counts China as its largest trade partner, African importers who sell cheap Chinese-made goods said they were itching to return to China to stock up while many African countries are also hoping to attract Chinese tourists.

While fears about the spread of COVID-19 caused some countries in Asia, Europe and North America to implement negative testing requirements for Chinese travelers, drawing the ire of Beijing, countries like Kenya and South Africa said they would not be implementing any travel restrictions for travelers from China.

African businesses eye China’s reopening

Markets and stocks around the world shot up with China’s reopening, and African businesses are also hoping to cash in on the world’s second-largest economy.

“We are open to going there now and we are looking forward to do that to make sure that we get our businesses back on track,” Samuel Karanja, the CEO of the Importers and Small Traders Association of Kenya, told VOA, adding that the pandemic years have been a “roller coaster” for traders.

“For the past three years, it has been a very difficult moment for those traders because they lost touch with their suppliers. Ideally, the traders could go to China, meet their suppliers or manufacturers, go with samples of the goods that they need to be produced for them, some of them could wait for even weeks to be able to see that the production is completed, and the goods are loaded in containers and they’re coming back to Kenya,” he said.

Karanja said that was how business was done before the pandemic where Kenyan small and medium enterprise owners would travel to Chinese cities including Guangzhou, where they bulk purchased everything from electronics and motorbike spare parts to kitchenware and school stationery. After China implemented its zero-COVID policy, however, the Kenyan businesses had to make purchases remotely, often with the help of unscrupulous middlemen who ripped them off.

Denis Juru, president of the International Cross-Border Traders Association in South Africa, echoed this, telling VOA that China’s reopening has lots of advantages for his organization’s members.

“The opening of Chinese borders will boost the African economy as Chinese products are cheap. African traders new to the business will be able to go and make their choices physically. New companies in China will take this opportunity to convince traders from Africa by reducing prices,” he said.

He noted that traveling to China is expensive but said while staying in-country and shopping online is easier and more economical “some companies in China sell the wrong products online. Therefore, the process of exchange inconveniences African businesses.”

Optimism with caution

As for large corporations that do business with China, Christo van der Rheede, CEO of Agri SA, South Africa’s biggest agricultural organization, was more circumspect about the pros and cons of China’s reopening.

“It remains to be seen how this is going to impact on South Africa. Remember, South Africa’s a big exporter of particular commodities, for example, coal, iron ore, as well as other agricultural commodities to China. Hopefully, this will increase the demand for South African commodities,” he said.

He also noted South Africa needs to weigh the economic benefits with caution around the spread of COVID-19.

“I think economically wise, we’ve seen how the clampdown, the zero(-COVID) policy, has impacted on the logistics, especially import and export logistics, and how that has driven up the cost of shipping throughout the world,” he said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to manage it in a way that will boost our economy and our exports to China, but at the same time we need to manage any outbreak in South Africa very carefully.”

Attracting Chinese visitors

So, what about travel from the other direction: Chinese coming to the continent either for business, to work on Belt and Road infrastructure projects or for tourism?

China's Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, second left, and African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, center, attend the inauguration of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 11, 2023.
China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, second left, and African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, center, attends the inauguration of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 11, 2023.

As soon as the country opened, Beijing was quick to send new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on his first official visit to the continent on a five-country tour.

In a speech on his first stop in Ethiopia, Qin reassured Africa that China plans to strengthen trade ties and accelerate in-person exchanges.

“First, let us intensify our in-person interactions and connectivity of ideas. The pandemic will be over, and we can see [the] light of hope ahead. … We will expand exchange and cooperation with Africa in various fields and at all levels, including between the governments, legislatures, political parties, militaries and localities,” Qin said. “African political leaders, AU Commission officials at various levels and Africans in the political, business and academic circles are most welcome to visit in due course.”

“We will encourage Chinese companies and people to come to Africa for investment and tourism. We will provide more facilitation to restore two-way personnel exchanges at a faster pace,” he added.

In terms of Chinese visitors to South Africa, however, Rosemary Anderson, national chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, told VOA the current system leaves much to be desired.

“The Chinese traveler to South Africa has to present themselves in person at an embassy or visa office in China and wait up to months for a visa to be supplied,” she said, noting South Africa only attracted about 93,000 visitors before the pandemic in 2019, out of some 155 million Chinese who traveled abroad.

FILE - Chinese tourists stand outside former South African President Nelson Mandela's house in Johannesburg, South Africa, July, 2, 2013.
FILE – Chinese tourists stand outside former South African President Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg, South Africa, July, 2, 2013.

However, she noted that it was encouraging that Air China has recently started a direct flight between Beijing and Johannesburg.

Anderson said South Africa should do more to attract Chinese travelers, including public and private sector marketing initiatives aimed specifically at the Chinese market, ensuring destination and product information is available on Chinese search engines, and marketing on Chinese social media channels like Weibo and WeChat.

As China reopens to the world, “showing that you are Chinese friendly by, for example, offering payment platforms like WeChat Pay and Alipay, keeping in mind Chinese holiday dates, learning a few key phrases in Mandarin and training tourist guides to speak Mandarin,” would all be useful, she said.

*VOA*

 

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IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva to visit Zambia, Rwanda- sources

 International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva will visit Rwanda later this month after traveling to Zambia, three sources familiar with the plans said on Friday.

Georgieva on Thursday said she would visit Zambia the week after next, but her visit to Rwanda has not been previously reported. Georgieva will travel to Africa after speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week.

The IMF had no immediate comment.

Rwanda was the first African country to receive IMF funding under its new Resilience and Sustainability Trust. The IMF in October reached a staff-level agreement with Rwanda on a 36-month financing package valued at $310 million.

At the time, the IMF said the funding would help the country move forward with its economic reforms and build resilience against climate change.

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Africa Is a Big Stage for International Cooperation, Not an Arena for Major-Power Rivalry- Qin Gang

Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat jointly met the press.

Qin Gang said that China is glad to see any country truly help Africa realize peace and development with sincerity

When asked by journalists about China’s view on the second U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Qin Gang said that as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and the United States shoulder important responsibility for world peace, security and development. The China-United States relationship should not be a competitive one or a zero-sum game that enlarges one’s own gain at the expense of the other; otherwise, it will only hurt both sides and even the world. China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and should not harm third-party interests. This corresponds with the trend of the times and the common expectations of the international community.

Qin Gang said that the profound traditional friendship between China and Africa, rooted in mutual support between both sides in the fight for national liberation and originating from mutual help in the course of pursuing development, is a friendly relationship of cooperation featuring sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith based on mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, and win-win results. Having withstood the test of the changing international landscape, it has grown from strength to strength, and become unbreakable. Since the beginning of the new century, China has built in Africa more than 6,000 kilometers of railways, 6,000 kilometers of roads, nearly 20 ports, and over 80 large-scale power facilities, and funded over 130 hospitals and clinics, over 170 schools, 45 sports venues, and over 500 agricultural projects. These tangible outcomes have played an important role in advancing economic and social development and improving people’s livelihood in Africa, demonstrated the true color of China-Africa relations and the defining color of China-Africa friendship, and been praised by African countries and people.

Qin Gang noted that Africa is an emerging continent full of hope, vigor, and vitality. Without peace and development of Africa, the world would not be in stability and prosperity. Africa needs solidarity and cooperation, rather than bloc confrontation. No country or individual has the power to force African countries to pick sides. Africa should be a stage for international cooperation, not an arena for major-force rivalry. If there is competition, it should be about who does more practical things for the peace and development of Africa and who helps Africa have more representation and say in the international governance agenda. Qin Gang said that China is glad to see any country truly help Africa realize peace and development with sincerity. If African friends wish, China is also ready to carry out trilateral or multilateral cooperation with any other country in Africa to jointly make greater contributions to the development and rejuvenation of Africa.

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ECNOMOMY: Ghana requests G20 Common Framework debt restructuring -Source

Ghana requested on Tuesday to restructure its bilateral debt under the common framework platform supported by the Group of 20 major economies, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The crisis-hit nation becomes the fourth country to apply to the G20 initiative launched in 2020 and designed to streamline debt restructuring efforts in the wake of poorer countries buckling under the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The West African country was pushing bilateral creditors to form a committee as soon as possible, aiming for an “expedited treatment”, said a second source, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

The request came as part of a virtual presentation by Ghana’s finance ministry hosted under the auspices of the group of creditor nations known as the Paris Club, the source added.

Ghana’s debt restructuring under the common framework aims to include non-Paris club members, such as China in debt relief talks. China is Ghana’s biggest bilateral creditor with $1.7 billion of debt, while the country owes $1.9 billion to Paris club members, according to data from the International Institute of Finance (IIF).

The Paris Club declined to comment. Ghana’s finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported first on Thursday that Ghana was seeking debt treatment under the G20 programme.

Ghana, which secured a $3 billion staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in mid-December, has been hesitating on this request due to the long delays faced by other countries using the process.

The platform has been widely criticized for its glacial progress. While Chad secured a deal with creditors in November, Zambia is still locked in talks and Ethiopia’s progress was held up by civil war.

The formation of an official creditor committee is a key step the country needs to formally seek financial assurances from bilateral creditors that they are willing to enter a debt rework process.

Without these assurances, the IMF’s executive board would delay the programme’s approval and in consequence, money disbursements.

Some bondholders said Ghana opting to go down the common framework route put the prospect of a swift resolution further out of reach.

“With the common framework and the poor track record on the timeline for that, it just makes things more uncertain,” said Anders Faergemann, portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments. “Ghana needs the IMF and now it’s just going to take longer.”

Ghana’s bonds fell on Tuesday with the issue featuring a partial World Bank guarantee slipping more than 1 cent to trade just below 70 cents in the dollar while other bonds hovered at deeply distressed levels of 35-40 cents, Tradeweb data showed.

*Reuters*

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