China's leader Xi Jinping says his country would launch initiatives to support Africa's industrialisation and agricultural modernisation.
"China will better harness its resources for cooperation with Africa and initiatives of businesses to support Africa in growing its manufacturing sector and realizing industrialisation and economic diversification," Xi said.
He made the pledge during a meeting with leaders and ministers from the African Union and 11 African countries including Libya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia as the BRICS summit wrapped up on Thursday.
The BRICS members - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed to admit six new countries including Egypt and Ethiopia.
China's top Africa diplomat Wu Peng said this week that African countries wanted China to shift its focus from building infrastructure on the continent to local industrialisation, Reuters news agency reports.
'It makes sense'
China's official Xinhua news agency said the country would expand the scale of African agricultural products exported to China and aim to help Africa achieve food self-sufficiency. Experts are also urging access to clean energy and jobs.
"If African leaders are lobbying China for less infrastructure project financing, they are pushing on an open door," said Brad Parks, head of AidData, a research lab at US university William & Mary that tracks Chinese overseas lending and grants.
"In 2009, it issued grants and loans worth $88 billion to support infrastructure projects in Africa. However, by 2021, its grant and loan commitments for infrastructure projects in Africa amounted to only $24 billion," Parks said.
David Monyae, director of the University of Johannesburg's Centre for China Africa studies, said that with over-capacity in China it made sense for companies to move factories to Africa, adding that many were already doing well in industrial zones in Ethiopia and Kenya.
"They're moving fast, they're ready, they have the capital and the skills. They are first movers anyway," he said.
The Chinese and African leaders said that the longstanding issue of the reform of multilateral financial institutions and the United Nations Security Council should be addressed.
“Both sides agreed that China-Africa cooperation should draw attention to the strengthening of existing global institutional mechanisms to ensure the participation of developing countries, thus allowing for inclusiveness and global trust,” said a joint statement.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping co-chaired the China-Africa leaders' roundtable dialogue in Johannesburg attended by several African leaders.
“We should carry forward the spirit of sticking together in times of adversity, practice true multilateralism and unequivocally oppose vestiges of colonialism and hegemony in all forms,” Xi Jinping said.
“We should firmly support each other in defending co-interests, stand strong by the just cause of developing countries and work for a more just equitable order,” he added.