China on Sunday reinforced its credentials as a pro-Third World economic powerhouse by offering billions of dollars of concessional loans to Africa and pledging to contribute significantly to the continent’s skilled human resources base.

Addressing delegates from 50 countries, participating in the two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao promised $10 billion of preferential loans to Africa over the next three years.

China, he said, would also launch a partnership with Africa on science and technology, which would allow 100 African postdoctoral fellows to carry out scientific research in China, Xinhua reported.

By 2012, Chinese government scholarships to Africa would rise to 5,500, and around 20,000 African professionals would be trained over the next three years. China’s ambitious plans also include building 50 schools and training 1,500 school principals and teachers for Africa.

Agriculture would be another focal area of the evolving China-Africa relationship. China would increase the number of its agricultural technology demonstration centres in Africa to 20. It would send 50 agricultural technology teams to Africa and train 2,000 agricultural technology personnel, to help boost the continent’s food security.

In the field of healthcare, China would provide medical equipment and anti-malaria materials worth $73.2 million to 30 hospitals and 30 malaria prevention and treatment centres built by China. Around 3,000 doctors and nurses would also be trained under this initiative.

Mr. Wen said China would further open up its market to African products, with provisions of duty free access to 95 per cent of the products produced by the least developed African countries.

China will work together with Africa on climate change issues, covering areas such as satellite weather monitoring, development and utilisation of new energy sources, prevention and control of desertification and urban environmental protection. Beijing will develop 100 clean energy projects for Africa covering solar power, bio-gas and small hydro-power plants.

Chinese officials have said that Beijing pursued a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of African countries.

“Africa is fully capable of solving its own problems, in an African way,” Mr. Wen observed during his speech. He added that China “has never attached any political strings... to assistance to Africa.”

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