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China-Africa cooperation enjoys broad prospects

Author  :  RUAN YILEI     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2022-08-04

JINHUA—On July 21, the 1st Sub-forum of the 11th Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum was convened in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province. Under the theme “The Belt and Road Initiative and China-Africa Development Financing Cooperation,” participating scholars conducted in-depth exchanges on such topics as how to promote the high-quality growth of China-Africa development financing cooperation.

Thriving cooperation

In the past few decades, China has witnessed remarkable development achievements, and the relationship between China and Africa has also flourished. Bonaventure Okhaimo, chief operating officer of the Development Bank of Nigeria, said that some of the infrastructure projects we see in Africa today may never have been completed without China’s support.

Chinyere Almona, director general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria, noted that Nigeria is one of China’s largest trading partners in Africa. China is a major funder of many development projects in Nigeria. Over the years, China has been a strategic import center for Nigerian manufacturers. The bilateral trade has been increasing with a deepening strategic partnership.

China has now become Africa’s largest trading partner, said former Mali Prime Minister Moussa Mara. The cooperation between China and Africa should go further, especially in the financial field, to facilitate Africa’s industrialization.

Opportunities from BRI

Since it was proposed by China, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has received extensive support from African countries. So far, 52 of the 53 African countries that have established diplomatic ties with China, as well as the African Union Commission, have signed cooperation documents with China to jointly build the BRI.

António Serifo Embaló, ambassador of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau to China, said that the China-proposed initiative has greatly promoted China-Africa cooperation and accelerated bilateral collaboration in terms of cultural exchanges, technological innovation, digital technology, and the green economy.

On January 1, 2021, the African Continental Free Trade Area was officially launched, and African economic integration and regional economic integration are accelerating, which also creates broader development space for China-Africa cooperation.

Gert Grobler, a South African senior research fellow from the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University (ZNU), noted that under the BRI, future cooperation between Africa and China will face many opportunities along with new challenges. Both sides should continue to adhere to the principle of achieving shared growth through consultation and collaboration, and pursue open, green, and clean cooperation. It is important to effectively align BRI cooperation with the development strategies of countries along the routes, to jointly achieve high-level development.

Fostering development

Poverty levels in Africa have generally declined over the past decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased poverty and widening inequalities among and within African countries. Ifem Nkam Ubi, acting director of the Research and Studies Department at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, said that there are many reasons for Africa’s inadequate development. China is now the world’s most important growth engine, playing an increasingly important role in Africa’s foreign trade. He expressed his hope that China and Africa can promote high-quality development of African industry through good policy linkages.

Li Zhibiao, a research fellow from the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the level of economic industrialization in Africa is low, so governments and people in Africa have strong needs for economic development. Africa’s abundant resources, a younger population, and promising economic prospects represent important advantages for the continent’s development.

Christine Musisi, UNDP resident representative for Tanzania, said that China-Africa cooperation is crucial to filling the huge funding gap needed for sustainable development in Africa. In the future, a people-oriented investment mechanism can be established to unlock some innovative and alternative financing channels.

The sub-forum was hosted by the Secretariat of Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and co-organized by the Institute of African Studies at ZNU and the Foreign Affairs Office of the Jinhua Municipal People’s Government.

Editor: Yu Hui

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