“I have attended over five hundred international meetings. This one was the best. It was productive and very meaningful,” said Professor Mutharika during a press briefing in China’s capital Beijing hours before his return to Malawi, where he has since arrived.
During his two week visit, he fulfilled at least eighteen official engagements that were lined up both before, during and after the summit. Such included an audience with President of China Xi Jinping, a time when Malawi signed an over 27 billion Kwacha pact with the second largest economy in the world.
“China and Africa have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win cooperation. China takes it as its mission to make new and even greater contribution to mankind," said Jinping when he addressed about fifty Heads of State and Government when he officially opened the Summit, a time when he said China will pump in the sum of $60 billion towards spurring Africa’s development agenda.
The pledge, which is touted to be in line with the 2063 African Union’s development agenda, will cover a number of areas including infrastructure connectivity, green initiative, industrial promotion, human resource development and agriculture.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe captured after signing the agreement
Added Mutharika during the press briefing, “We have also signed an agreement for 250 million Chinese Yuan, equivalent to $37 million, which is about 27 billion Malawi Kwacha. This funding is available and ready.
“Out of this funding, 200 million Yuan is straight grant. The remaining fifty is a very soft loan. The Minister of Finance and his team are going to move with speed to use these funds,” he said, further pointing out that his government will establish a special desk within the Ministry of Finance to help ensure that Malawi benefits from China’s fresh pledge of $60 billion pool funding for various development interventions in Africa.
The new funding, which is expected to be disbursed within the next three years and beyond, comes following China’s fulfillment of a similar commitment in 2015 in South Africa, in what was called the Johannesburg Action Plan.
This year’s Summit, which was also attended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guteres, has been held under the theme: Win–win cooperation and join hands to build a closer Community with a shared future for China and Africa.
“This forum on China – Africa cooperation is an embodiment of two major priorities of the United Nations. To pursue fair globalization, and to promote development that leaves no one behind, in the context of the rules based system of international relations, supported by strong multilateral institutions,” said Guteres, minutes after co-chairperson for the summit who is also President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, described those alleging that the platform is an attempt by China to colonise Africa are “distracters of development.”
Formed in 2008, the Forum is a key platform for dialogue between China, the second largest economy in the world and countries in Africa. It is largely premised on stimulating increased trade and enhancing bilateral ties between the two parties.