JOHANNESBURG — China's president pledged $60 billion to development in Africa on Friday, as part of what Chinese and African leaders have called "win-win cooperation."
President Xi Jinping made the announcement to rousing applause from an audience that included South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and African Union Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Speaking at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation in South Africa, Xi outlined 10 areas that will receive funding including infrastructure projects, aid for drought-stricken countries and thousands of scholarships for African students. The Chinese government will also cancel outstanding debts for Africa's least developed countries in the form of zero interest loans that mature at the end of 2015, he said.
Xi also promised to provide assistance to help upgrade African health care facilities, train hundreds of journalists and provide satellite reception in 10,000 African villages.
China has the world's largest foreign currency reserves at $3.514 trillion. State owned banks have often looked to developing countries for investment opportunities.
The $60 billion pledge is three times as much as the package promised at the last China Africa cooperation summit in 2012, said economist Aubrey Hruby. With China's recent economic woes, the Washington D.C.-based economist was expecting a more modest fund.
Hruby added the package is likely to be distributed through numerous state-owned agencies and it will be difficult to track the funding's successes or failures.
"There's not a lot of transparency in how it's broken down," she said.
As with pledges from previous summits, the funding will be distributed over the next three years, she added.
At the last summit in Beijing, China pledged to provide a $20 billion credit line to African countries for development projects and boosted the China Africa development fund by $5 billion, as it has this year.