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China Values ICTs Cooperation with Africa

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The Chinese government attaches great importance to cooperation with Africa in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) sector, Chinese Envoy and Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The Chinese department in charge of information and communication will strengthen communication and cooperation with their African counterparts and establish consultation mechanisms, Zhai said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government will support capable enterprises to open business in Africa, in a bid to make contribution to African countries' economic development and promote modernization of communication in the continent, he said.

The cooperation between China and Africa in the ICTs sector has played an active role in advancing Africa's overall communication level, promoting the continent's economic development, and bridging the "digital gap" between Africa and the rest of the world, the Chinese envoy said.

Thanks to the efforts made in the past 10 years, communication facilities produced by Chinese enterprises have gained certain market share in Africa, and Chinese brands have won their renown in the African market, Zhai said.

Products and services by Chinese communication facility enterprises such as ZTE and Huawei have covered 50 African countries, providing communication services for more than 300 million people, Zhai said.

Meanwhile, more than 40 3G networks have been established in over 30 African countries with regional offices of Chinese communication facility enterprises scattering in 48 African countries while regional research and development centers and personnel training centers have also been established in the continent, he noted.

Moreover, ICTs cooperation between the two sides have also helped generate employment, promote technology transfer and improve people's livelihood in Africa, said the minister.

In Africa, Chinese enterprises pay special attention to employing local employees, who now account for over 60 percent of the total number of staff, Zhai said, adding that Chinese enterprises train more than 20,000 technical personnel for Africa every year.

Chinese enterprises also do their best to make local procurement, Zhai said, noting that Huawei alone has made a US$480 million procurement in African in 2008.

At the same time, Chinese enterprises actively carry out social responsibilities in Africa by funding schools, hospitals and wildlife conservation, which are applauded extensively by African governments and people, according to him.

Zhai arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa Wednesday to attend as an observer the 14th African Union (AU) summit scheduled from Sunday to Tuesday.

Under the theme "Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development," leaders from AU member states will assess the achievement made in Africa in the ICTs sector, while discussing opportunities, challenges and prospects of the sector's development.

During the summit, participants are also expected to exchange views on issues including regional integration, climate change, Africa's stance on UN reforms and regional conflicts, among others.

(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2010)

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