Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is to visit four countries in Africa on hisfirst tour of the continent since assuming his position a little over a year ago,seeking to nurture a booming economic relationship.Li is scheduled to visit Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya during the trip, whichbegins Sunday and lasts for a week, officials said. It also includes a visit to theheadquarters of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.The trip follows one Chinese President Xi Jinping made to the continent last year,shortly after taking office, a journey that underscored Africa's importance to China,the world's second-largest economy.Xi became state president and Li became premier in March last year, culminating aonce-a-decade power transition in Communist Party-ruled China.
China's economic growth has been partially fuelled by African natural resources,including oil."It is an important visit oriented towards the whole continent," Zhang Ming, Chinesevice-minister for foreign affairs, told reporters, stressing that Li will be visitingAfrica's eastern, western and southern regions.It "highlights the great importance we attach to China-Africa relations", he added.Zhang also said that renewing the "traditional friendship" between China and Africaas well as advancing a "new type of strategic partnership" were goals of the visit.- Growing ties -
After arriving in Ethiopia on Sunday, Li journeys to Nigeria on Tuesday beforemoving on to Angola on Thursday and finally Kenya on Friday, China's foreignministry said."Chinese investment in Ethiopia is showing significant expansion in both qualityand quantity, and it currently stands at over US $1 billion," Ethiopia's foreignministry said in a statement.The high-rise AU headquarters, Addis Ababa's tallest building, was built anddonated by China at a cost of $200 million in 2012. Li is expected to address leadersof the 54-member pan-African bloc.Li is scheduled to spend three days in Nigeria, where he will meet PresidentGoodluck Jonathan and also attend the World Economic Forum on Africa, whichstarts in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday.Nigeria's government said bilateral ties between the two nations have been growingsince they first established diplomatic relations in 1971 and Li's visit would build onthose links.The foreign ministry said six major agreements would be signed during the three-day trip, including "economic and technical cooperation", aviation, banking andhealth projects to combat malaria.In Kenya, Li's talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta will focus on "ways to strengthencooperation in trade, investment, infrastructure development, energy, finance,agriculture, aviation, space technology, information and communication", its
foreign ministry said in a statement.Key Chinese projects in Kenya include a batch of energy projects and the building ofa new railway track from the Indian Ocean coast to the western border with Uganda.According to official Chinese data, since 2009, China has been Africa's largesttrading partner for five consecutive years and an important source for newinvestments on the continent.Assistant Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen said that by the end of 2013,China's direct investments to Africa reached $25 billion.Stressing traditional China-Africa friendship, Zhang Ming noted that Li's visitcoincides with the 50th anniversary of late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai's landmarkvisit to Africa in 1964.Zhang said that nearly 60 cooperation documents will be signed on the visit, while
China and the AU will jointly issue two important documents "on their mutualcooperation".Asked about the nature of the business deals expected, Zhang Xiangchen, thecommerce ministry official, said: "We will sign many agreements, not only aboutoil".Angola, which pumps just under two million barrels of crude a day, is sub-Saharan
Africa's second oil producer after Nigeria, and is Africa's No. 3 economy afterNigeria and South Africa.China's growing role in Africa has also sparked tensions in some countries.In February last year, for example, the Zambian government seized control of aChinese-owned coal company due to poor compliance with safety andenvironmental standards, its mines minister said.And in 2012 workers at the mine killed a Chinese manager during rioting over workconditions.