When Luo Qi first set foot on the African continent in 2012, he had no idea he would spend the next seven years turning his company into one of the top three Chinese construction machinery exporters in Africa.
"Back in 2012, every time we sought to make a deal, we had to spend hours giving a detailed explanation about our company and the local team. Now, we only need to explain about the quality and functions of our equipment," said Luo Qi, southern Africa regional manager at Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science& Technology Co, a leading Chinese construction machinery manufacturer.
Over the past 10 years, the company, headquartered in Changsha, Hunan province, has taken part in several key projects in Africa, including the famous Algerian East-West Highway Project, Djama Grand Mosque Project, Algerian Capital Airport New Terminal Project and South Africa World Cup Stadium Project, providing strong support to African infrastructure construction and urban development.
So far, the company has sold around 4,000 machines to various African nations, including Algeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Cameroon. It also has two subsidiaries in South Africa, offices in Algeria and West Africa, and spare parts warehouses in Algeria as well as Johannesburg, South Africa.
"In Africa, we have a team of more than 50 members, providing local customers with one-stop services covering sales, service, technology, and financing," Luo said.
China-made products and services have made a name for their high quality, competitive pricing and better after-sales service in Africa, Luo said. "In South Africa, once a client makes a request for technical support, we are able to offer on-site repair services in 24 hours."
The past decade has seen a marked increase in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. Chinese firms, such as Zoomlion, have shown remarkable competence in manufacturing, infrastructure and engineering sectors.
China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for 10 consecutive years. Last year, trade volume between China and Africa amounted to $204.2 billion, up 20 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.
As of the end of 2018, more than 3,700 Chinese companies had been set up in Africa, with a combined direct investment of more than $46 billion. The turnover of contracted projects completed by Chinese companies reached $517.26 billion by 2018.
"With the help of advanced technologies, professional management, and rich experience, China has built a wide range of infrastructure projects that have benefited the local people, created jobs and boosted local economic development," Chen Fei, vice-governor of Hunan province, said at the ongoing first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha.
Li Yong, the director-general at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said sustainable industrial development is important for Africa's economic development, and only through the efforts of various parties can Africa achieve its goal articulated in the key policy framework adopted by African leaders.
Li said the organization is making progress with support from partners like China, which has backed the construction of four pilot industrial parks in Ethiopia.
Charles Kayonga, Rwanda's ambassador to China, said Rwanda, the east-central African country, has greatly benefited from the China-Africa economic relationship.
According to Kayonga, China has supported several infrastructure projects in Rwanda. "We are working with partners in China to develop industries and China is willing to offer support. China has also helped us to build hospitals... and there are other areas where we are benefiting."
"The future is bright with China's continued support. China has offered the eight-initiative plan and backed its implementation with a commitment of $60 billion in investment," said Kayonga.
The eight initiatives were unveiled at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which includes areas such as industrial promotion, infrastructure, trade, and green development.