China’s taking another step in expanding its footprint in Africa. China Daily reports that Beijing is building what’s touted as Africa’s biggest university library in Tanzania.

The foundation stone for the new library at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) was laid by Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday. It will be built at a cost of about $40 million and is fully funded by the Chinese government.


Magufuli says the Chinese aid project is coming at a time when his government is striving to improve the nation’s education standard.

When finished, the state-of-the-art facility will total 20,000 square meters and boast over 800,000 books. The mega-facility will also accommodate 2,600 university students at a time, officials said.

Ground breaking on the facility was attended by former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who now serves as UDSM’s chancellor.

China’s ambassador to Tanzania, Lyu Youqing commended Tanzania’s efforts at promoting its economy which grew at high rate over the last 10 years. Tanzania’s annual GDP growth rate averaged 6.72% from 2002 until 2015, according to the country’s national statistics bureau.

Like other African nations, Tanzania is focusing on building an educated and thriving middle class.

Magufuli says his government is spending $9.4 million monthly to fund free education nationwide.

“Increased enrollment in primary schools have left us with challenges of shortage of classrooms and desks. We request education stakeholders to keep on supporting the government,” Magufuli said.

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