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WB Seeks China's Joint Efforts in African Development

The World Bank seeks to work together with China as strong partners in Africa to tackle key challenges standing on the way to Africa's sustained growth, said Obliageli "Oby" Ezekwesili, the Bank's Vice President for African Region.

The principles underlying China's support are those of mutual benefit, and reciprocity. "What is different, however, is the scale and focus of these investments," Ezekwesili said Wednesday while addressing at the Chinese Center for Economic Research of Peking University.

The cooperation should focus on areas including infrastructure, regional integration, natural resource management, agriculture and technology, said Ezekwesili

"Working more closely together we can support the efforts of our partners in Africa -- as drivers of their own development."

According to the World Bank, infrastructure remains a critical bottleneck for Africa which remains a "high cost" business address. About 54 percent of population are likely to miss the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target for water; 25 percent of African households have access to electricity.

Estimates reveal that Africa requires capital investment of about US$22 billion per year to sustain a 7 percent GDP growth rate which leads to achieving the poverty target set in the MDG.

"China holds huge promise for Africa, not just in terms of the enormous financial investment that it brings into energy, transportation, water and other related sectors, but also the technical expertise that comes with its own development of such world class infrastructure network," she said.

She also suggested that China support investment within African countries that are drawing on and improving the local talents.

"Such investments ought to provide important opportunities for indigenous African firms to form joint ventures to enable them clime the value chain," she said.

"I am pleased that China is participating as an Observer in the (Infrastructure) Consortium, and hope that this will gradually develop into full participation as a member."

Chinese companies participate in World Bank funded projects in Africa and at current annual average of US$265 million being one of the largest such share.

"We can learn a lot from China," she said.

"The path through which China has traveled in the reduction of poverty levels is certainly one that provides hope Africa in many ways especially in agriculture. I really look forward to exploring how China's experience can be beneficial to Africa."

(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2008)

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