. Africa News .

China doubles loans to Africa to $20 billion
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 19, 2012

China said Thursday it would offer $20 billion in new loans to Africa, underscoring the relationship's growing importance, as Chinese companies agreed to operate more responsibly on the resource-rich continent.

Beijing has poured money into Africa over the last 15 years, seeking to tap into its vast natural resources, and China became the continent's largest trading partner in 2009.

But its aggressive move into the continent has at times caused friction with local people, with some complaining Chinese companies import their own workers, flout labour laws and mistreat local employees.

The loan pledge, made by President Hu Jintao as he opened a Beijing forum on China-Africa cooperation, is double the amount China agreed to lend to Africa at the last such event in 2009 and will cover the next three years.

Addressing African leaders including South African President Jacob Zuma and Kenya Premier Raila Odinga, Hu said the loans would focus on supporting infrastructure, manufacturing and the development of small businesses.

"China and Africa's destinies are closely linked, Chinese and African friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people on both sides," he said.

"China sincerely supports African countries as they pursue their own development paths, and will sincerely assist African countries in strengthening their ability to develop independently."

Hu also promised training and scholarships for African professionals and students, assistance with healthcare, customs and excise and financial support for the African Union.

South Africa's Zuma thanked China for treating African countries as "equals", but he cautioned against allowing an unequal trade relationship to persist in which Africa mainly supplied raw materials.

"This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term," he told the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.

"Africa's past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.

"We are particularly pleased that, in our relationship with China, we are equals and that agreements entered into are for mutual gain."

Africa's rich natural resources are its main export to China, which needs minerals to fuel its massive economic growth, while the continent's major imports are mechanical or electrical products.

Trade between the Asian powerhouse and the continent hit a record $166.3 billion last year, from less than $20 billion a decade earlier and up 83 percent on 2009, according to government data.

Once seen as strictly interested in extracting raw resources and investing in infrastructure, China has interests on the continent that are increasingly shifting to investing in institutions and governments, experts say.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking at Thursday's forum, said cooperation with China was "creating opportunities for African countries to diversify their economies, create jobs and improve healthcare and education".

But anti-Chinese sentiment has grown in recent years and Zambia's current president tapped into this to win office in 2011, one year after two Chinese managers shot at 11 local workers protesting over poor pay and work conditions.

On Thursday, Chinese state-run bodies operating in Africa signed a declaration of social responsibility in which they pledged to respect local customs, pay more tax and protect the environment, among other measures.

Sponsors of the declaration included the State Development Bank, the China-Africa Development Fund, and China Non-Ferrous Metals Group.

"Chinese companies operating in African countries are paying increasing attention to the fulfilling of their social responsibilities as well as making profits and getting economic returns," said Yu Ping, vice chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

Related Links
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

New sapphire find sends panners into Madagascar lemur park
Antanifotsy, Madagascar (AFP) July 22, 2012 - Knee-deep in muddy water, a 10-year-old child and a woman with braided hair lean over a large sieve, washing earth and rocks, their eyes clenched against the filthy splashing water.

They are among the thousands of panners hoping to strike it rich on a recently discovered seam of sapphires, running through Madagascar's newest national park created to protect the island's famed lemurs and dozens of other rare species.

The 381,000 hectares (941,000 acres) of virgin rainforest of the Ankeniheny-Zahamena corridor officially became a protected area late last year. Then in April, sapphires were found.

"We had an invasion of illegal miners in this park, which is our most recent protected area", says Angelo Francois Randriambeloson from the ministry of environment.

The park has 2,043 identified species of plants; 85 percent are found no where else in the world. There's also 15 species of lemurs, 30 other mammals, 89 types of birds and 129 kinds of amphibians. And that's just what's been discovered so far.

But now among the park's tall trees, a one-kilometre (half-mile) stretch of river valley has turned into a mudpit as thousands of Madagascar's desperately poor people have thrown up makeshift homes of branches and plastic sheets, beaten by near-daily rains.

The vast Indian Ocean island is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 81 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank.

Sapphires present an irresistible lure of quick riches for the lucky, who say they don't have to dig more than three metres (10 feet) to find large stones.

Madagascar is one of the world's biggest sapphire producers, selling most to Sri Lanka and Thailand for cutting and polishing.

-- Sanitation problems --

Reaching the mine takes two days of hard walking from the small town of Didy, the closest place reachable by bush taxi. Even getting to Didi is tough. It's 300 kilometres from the capital, and less than a third of the distance is on paved roads.

The last 10 hours of the walk is through beautiful rain forest, climbing precipitous hills on barely perceptive boggy paths.

Morris, a 40-year-old aspiring miner, walked barefoot, carrying a heavy sack of rice so he would have food at the mine.

Most people spend just a few weeks here until they find one or more larger sapphires or rubies, some up to 10 grams.

"Here there are only two: blue sapphires and rubies. But there are more large ones," said Dudu, a 35-year-old buyer.

But the government wants miners to leave the park.

"We are now forming a commission and we are trying to plan a way to send the people away from the mine," said Randriambeloson. "As it's a protected park, its soil also belongs to the Malagasy state."

But people still go every day, in groups, to and from the mine. Some have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Others carry bags of rice, noodles, powdered milk or even generators.

Water for washing is now hard to find, since the river is extremely dirty. There is no drinking water and not a lot of food. Informal eateries surrounded by mud and fallen branches are expensive.

"The place has changed, there are more people around. But there are no security problems, only sanitation ones," Didy's deputy mayor said.

The authorities in the capital Antananarivo sent in police to discourage people from mining, to little result so far.

"Once the miners are out, we will restore the damage done," Randriambeloson vowed.


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Nigeria increases defense spending
Abuja, Nigeria (UPI) Jul 17, 2012
Nigeria's Ministry of Defense has projected spending $16.4 billion within the next four years. ICD Research/Strategic Defense Intelligence's "The Nigerian Defense Industry - Market Opportunities and Entry Strategies, Analyses and Forecasts to 2016" report forecasts Nigerian defense expenditure, in 2012 budgeted for $2.19 billion, will grow annually at 22 percent to $4.76 billion by 2016 ... read more

Refining the tool kit for sustainable fisheries

Helping pigs to digest phosphorus

Glyphosate-resistant 'superweeds' may be less susceptible to diseases

Australia aims to become Asia's food bowl

Faroe Islands blast threat of EU sanctions in mackerel war

How to make global fisheries worth five times more

Aquifer could supply water for centuries

Viruses linked to algae that control coral health

Worst drought in five decades ravages US

Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards

US drought worst in 25 years, food prices to rise

Worst drought in 5 decades ravages US

Apollo Energy Assists Businesses Cutting Commercial Energy Costs

Roadmap for a Sustainable Energy System in the Dominican Republic

Ireland calls for interconnector approval

Report: Canada can be energy superpower

OriginOil Ships First Production System to Paris-Based Ennesys

Beating the fuel prices: Using yeast for economic production of bioethanol

The Future of Biomaterial Manufacturing: Spider Silk Production from Bacteria

New Cuban biodiesel looks to 'bellyache bush'

Two China workers killed in Singapore tunnel accident

Raytheon technology to transform commercial cargo ships into cutting-edge humanitarian aid delivery platforms

A 'Phoenix' rises from Haiti quake ashes

Japan govt, media colluded on nuclear: Nobel winner

Green plants reduce city street pollution up to eight times more than previously believed

To clean up the mine, let fungus reproduce

Poison from illegal pot farms said a risk

India has least eco impact but feels guilty: study

Thailand, Cambodia pull back from temple

Universities lobby for a seat at the table

Record tourists to France in 2011, Chinese numbers surge

Peru gold mine protests grow

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement