China and the African Development Bank (AfDB) agreed Thursday on a co-financing fund worth $2 billion over 10 years, a multilateral deal signalling a shift in Beijing's policy of dealing direct with countries. The deal, Beijing's latest economic push on the continent, sets up the fund between the People’s Bank of China and the AfDB to finance "sovereign and non-sovereign guaranteed development projects" totalling some $200 million annually, bank chiefs said. The shift in setting up a multilateral fund follows criticism by some of China's growing role in Africa, striking deals including cheap loans in exchange for mining rights or construction contracts. "China is a friend of Africa, they invest in infrastructure, in natural resources," said AfDB president Donald Kaberuka, after inking a memorandum to set up the fund in the Rwandan capital. "Now this is the first time I believe in Africa, we are taking mainly a multilateral route... and they have done it because they want to assist in the development of Africa," he added. The fund is named the Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF), and bank leaders said it was expected to begin financing projects before the end of the year. "We believe that for the next two decades we are going to see a strong growth... and people here are going to raise their living standards substantially," said Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China. "China would like to be a part of this development." China's economic growth has been partially fuelled by African natural resources including oil. The deal follows Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's first tour of Africa tour earlier this month since assuming his position a little over a year ago, a trip seen as seeking to nurture a booming economic relationship. According to official Chinese data, since 2009, China has been Africa's largest trading partner for five consecutive years and an important source for new investments on the continent. Li, in a speech to the African Union in Ethiopia, praised the continent's growing economic power, and vowed to double trade to $400 billion (290 billion euros) by 2020.