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By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – China signed a raft of agreements with Ethiopia on Sunday as Premier Li Keqiang arrived for the first leg of his four-nation Africa tour aimed at shoring up burgeoning Sino-Africa ties that saw their trade top $200 billion last year.
This is Li’s first visit to Africa since he became premier last year, and follows a trip to the continent by President Xi Jinping in March 2013, when he renewed an offer of $20 billion in loans to Africa between 2013 and 2015.
Chinese ministers and company executives accompanying Li signed 16 deals with their Ethiopian counterparts, including loans and cooperation agreements for the construction of roads and industrial zones.
“This right track in the relationship between us has been laid. I am sure it will lead us to stronger growth in our ties,” Li told a press conference.
Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] – the world’s second largest telecom equipment maker – and ZTE Corp are currently working to introduce a high-speed 4G broadband network in the capital Addis Ababa and a 3G service throughout the country.
Officials said both firms have now signed an $80 million deal to lay optical ground cables to form a nationwide network.
NO COLONIAL AMBITIONS
Li’s tour, which will also take in Nigeria, Angola and Kenya, comes virtually on the 50th anniversary of then-Premier Zhou Enlai’s landmark trip to 10 African nations from December 1963 to January 1964.
“I wish to assure our African friends in all seriousness that China will never pursue a colonialist path like some countries did, or allow colonialism, which belongs to the past, to reappear in Africa,” the official news agency Xinhua quoted Li as saying ahead of his arrival in the Ethiopian capital.
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