(Refiles using diplomat’s surname at 2nd and later references)
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, March 16 (Reuters) - China’s economic slowdown will not threaten its plans to plough $60 billion into African development projects, Beijing’s ambassador to Ethiopia said.
Africa could even benefit as Chinese companies looked for investments while their own economy adjusts, Li Yifan told Reuters.
China’s economy grew 6.9 percent in 2015, its slowest pace in a quarter of a century. Beijing’s sharp drawdown of reserves to alleviate downward pressure on its yuan currency has unnerved global markets in recent months.
“In spite of all the doubts, I can share with you that the relevant government departments, development banks, and insurance companies in China are engaging ... their African counterparts on how to make this grand plan come (to fruition),” Li said in Addis Ababa, which hosts the African Union.
“You are going to wait and see gradual materialisation of this cooperative framework laid down by the Chinese and African leaders in Johannesburg,” Li added late on Tuesday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the multi-billion dollar development initiative at a summit in South Africa last year, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and cancel some debt.
“While the Chinese economy is shifting gears, all those major industries that have powered the explosion of Chinese infrastructure over the past 30 years have to find a place (to invest),” Li said.
“So where are the most ideal places for those investments? African countries,” he added. (Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Heavens)