Chinese investment to focus on more sectors
Services-related investments in areas such as tourism, education and healthcare will receive top priority and help cement business relations between China and Africa in the long run, said officials and business leaders.
Their comments came ahead of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, as both sides are keen to develop more areas of cooperation for robust growth.
"China's outbound direct investment will no longer just focus on Africa's infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and agricultural fields. Chinese companies have already begun to deploy more resources and manpower in Africa's services sectors as its economy has already diversified," said Yu Jianlong, secretary-general of the China Chamber of International Commerce.
Over 3,300 Chinese companies have invested in Africa in areas like transportation, power generation, telecommunications, industrial parks, agriculture, water supply, retail, schools, vehicle maintenance and rental business for construction machinery, hotels and hospitals, according to the chamber.
Beijing-based G-Net Cloud Services Co plans to establish service branches in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa to serve both Chinese and African companies this year, as telecom services are essential for global-scale businesses' day-to-day operations in the digital age.
The Chinese company provides services like stable, secure and seamless video conferencing, teleconferencing and web conference technologies and equipment, particularly for companies with operations spanning different countries and continents.
Chen Xuejun, CEO of G-Net, said: "As economic globalization has accelerated over the past decade, many African countries are no longer distant outposts as they once were. We are seeing the tangible development of Africa as a big opportunity. It's a must-have, not a nice-to-have."
"We decided to strengthen our international access capabilities for conferencing services and digital collaborations, including teleconferences, web conferences, video conferences, large-scale live webcasts in Africa where Chinese companies have already established a presence," he said.
Liu Fuxue, deputy director-general of the China International Import Expo Bureau, which is under the joint administration of the Ministry of Commerce and the Shanghai municipal government, said the first China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in November will offer opportunities to attract Chinese investors' attention to Africa's fast-growing services business.
"African countries should promote their market potential in job training, utility management, agriculture and tourism sectors to attract investors' attention at the expo later this year," said Liu.
Eight government agencies and 110 private companies from 34 African countries have confirmed they will participate in China's first import exhibition, which will be held from Nov 5 to 10.
He added that the Beijing summit comes at a time when China-Africa relations enter a new era with unique development opportunities, and the gathering is expected to create additional areas of cooperation.
"China and Africa should also unite as a power in promoting a fair and just global economic and political order, amid the trend of unilateralism and economic supremacy," said He Jingtong, a business professor at Nankai University in Tianjin.
To cut unnecessary costs, he suggested Chinese companies should first find what kind of services African countries need urgently or which industries are priority areas.