Cote d'Ivoire's Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan on Friday justified his country's preference for China for post-conflict economic reconstruction projects.
"Chinese groups offer us more advantageous conditions," Kablan Duncan said when interviewed by a French journalist on the choice of China to implement several socioeconomic projects in Cote d'Ivoire.
For example, he said, "for the construction of Soubre hydro- electric power station, China Eximbank gave us a loan whose repayment period is 25 years at an interest rate of 2 percent to 3 percent and a grace period of four years."
Up to 85 percent of the project, whose total cost is 331 billion CFA Francs (662 million U. S. dollars), was funded by China Eximbank and its construction is expected to be completed by 2018.
"French groups cannot compete," he said, citing another example of the construction of a six-lane highway between Abidjan to Grand- Bassam.
The project will cost 60 billion CFA Francs, out of which 53 billion CFA Francs will be in the form of a loan from China. The loan will be repaid over a period of 20 years at an interest rate of 2 percent.
"There is a lot of fantasy about the Chinese," Duncan said.
"They fund the U.S. economy by buying Treasury bonds, why shouldn't they fund Africa," he asked, responding to the criticism, especially from the West, regarding the contracts won by Chinese companies in Africa.
After over a decade of a political crisis that culminated in the 2010-2011 post-election crisis which weakened Cote d'Ivoire's economy, the West African country's economy has picked up and it grew by 8.7 percent in 2013.
The government is seeking funds and investors from Cote d'Ivoire's traditional partners as well as through public-private partnership to fund its five-year National Development Program estimated to cost 11,000 billion CFA Francs (about 20 billion dollars).