ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping has spoken highly of China's role in Africa's infrastructure development, saying that the Chinese "dragon" has played a fundamental part in the improvement of the infrastructure facilities across African countries.
In an exclusive interview with China's official Xinhua News Agency on the eve of 12th AU Summit to be held here from Feb. 1 to3, Ping said China is Africa's key strategic partner and has made significant contributions to the growth of infrastructure in Africa.
The theme of this summit is infrastructure development in Africa with a particular focus on the transport and energy sectors.
The AU chief said Chinese firms have rich experiences in overseas contract business, praising the quality of the roads, railways, bridges and airports constructed by Chinese firms.
Due to China's involvement in Africa, the infrastructure facilities have been greatly improved, Ping said, mentioning China's participation in Ethiopian and Algerian roads construction.
In Ethiopia, Chinese firms have built the Ring Road in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and in Algeria, Chinese firms have won the bid to construct the Algerian East-West Highway, according to Ping.
The backward infrastructure is severely hampering the development of Africa, he bemoaned.
Some African sub-regional groups, like SADC (the Southern African Development Community) and ECOWAS (the Economic Community Of West African States) have a big population and variety of consumer groups, but inadequate infrastructure facilities have hindered the population migration, Ping said, adding that the backward infrastructure has been a bottleneck curbing the development of Africa.
Ping urged African countries to share China's experience in infrastructure development.
The Chinese people understand the role of infrastructure in national economic development more than any other, he said.
China's success in economy lies on increasing infrastructure construction, he added.
The Chinese people are now proud of excellent infrastructure in their country, and because of excellent infrastructure facilities developed over the years, China has therefore made tremendous economic achievements, said Ping, who was also former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Gabon.
The AU chief lauded China's promise not to cut aid to Africa despite international financial crisis.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, when meeting with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in December last year, said China would not reduce assistance to Africa because of the international financial crisis.
Such a promise from China will play a very active role to offset the impact of financial crisis on Africa, he said.
Ping also praised the new type of Africa-China strategic partnership, based on mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. He said that statistics can prove the much-increased cooperation between Africa and China.
The Africa-China trade volume has surpassed 100 billion U.S. dollars and China has now become Africa's second largest trade partner, he said.
Due to China's huge imports from Africa, Africa now runs a trade surplus against China, he added.
Ping advised Chinese firms to develop Africa's processing industry, stressing that the development of processing industry in Africa will add the value of Africa's raw materials.
Chinese firms will also benefit from processing Africa's raw materials, he said.
Ping took Africa's timber trade for example, and said logging processing on one hand increases the value of logs, on the other hand lowers the cost of maritime transport.