Belt and Road bodes well for Africa

China Daily European Weekly - - COMMENT - The au­thor is the direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Strate­gic Pol­i­cyMan­age­ment at Africa Pol­icy In­sti­tute. The views do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of China Daily.

Con­ti­nent looks for­ward to more tan­gi­ble eco­nomic ben­e­fits to en­sure long-term, ‘win-win’ part­ner­ship

China in or­der to reap max­i­mum ben­e­fits for its peo­ple.”

In this re­gard, the Fo­rum on China Africa Co­op­er­a­tion was founded in 2000 and con­sists of 50 African coun­tries and China. The last FOCAC meet­ing in De­cem­ber 2015, held in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa, cul­mi­nated in the Jo­han­nes­burg Ac­tion Plan un­der the theme “China-Africa Pro­gress­ing To­gether: Win-Win Co­op­er­a­tion for Com­mon De­vel­op­ment”. As a re­sult, FOCAC was sub­se­quently up­graded to a “new­type of com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic and co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship” that links Africa’s trans­for­ma­tion as­pi­ra­tions to China’s own on­go­ing trans­for­ma­tion.

Other wel­come ini­tia­tives in­clude the “461 frame­work”, which is a co­op­er­a­tion frame­work pro­posed by China that in­cludes four prin­ci­ples (equal­ity, solidarity/mu­tual trust, tolerance in de­vel­op­ment is­sues, in­no­va­tive co­op­er­a­tion) six ma­jor projects (in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion, fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion, poverty al­le­vi­a­tion co­op­er­a­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion co­op­er­a­tion, civil and cul­tural ex­changes co­op­er­a­tion and peace and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion) and one plat­form, the FOCAC.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is closely aligned with the AfricanUnion’s long-term Vi­sion and Ac­tion Plan, dubbed Agenda 2063, which is the strate­gic blue­print for the con­ti­nent’s so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion over the next 50 years. In par­tic­u­lar, it com­ple­ments Africa’s as­pi­ra­tions to have world-class con­nec­tiv­ity through an in­te­gra­tive in­fra­struc­ture that criss­crosses the en­tire con­ti­nent. This means devel­op­ing bold newini­tia­tives to link the con­ti­nent by “four net­works” (high-speed rail, high­ways, re­gional avi­a­tion and mar­itime ports). The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive not only sup­ports this plan, but fur­ther ex­tends Africa’s links with theMid­dle East and Asia. Agenda 2063 also out­lines Africa’s re­nais­sance vi­sion by ac­cel­er­at­ing progress to­ward con­ti­nen­tal unity and in­te­gra­tion for sus­tained growth, trade and ex­changes of goods and ser­vices, as well as free move­ment of peo­ple and cap­i­tal.

Some of China’s key in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments in Africa in­clude Ethiopia’s first elec­tri­fied rail­way link­ing its cap­i­tal and Dji­bouti, which was launched in Oc­to­ber. In Kenya, the first phase of theNairobi-Mal­aba Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way project will be launched in June. It has been lauded by Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta as the mod­ern rail­way line that will cat­alyze Kenya’s in­dus­trial trans­for­ma­tion and po­si­tion the coun­try as an in­vest­ment hub. It is the largest in­fra­struc­ture project un­der­taken by the coun­try since its in­de­pen­dence in 1963.

Other projects in­clude Zim­babwe’s Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port, up­graded and ex­panded with sup­port from China, the Abuja- Kaduna rail­way in Nige­ria and theNy­erere Bridge in Tan­za­nia. The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is ex­pected to over­lap con­ti­nen­tal ini­tia­tives and cover more African states soon. For in­stance, in­March 2017, China andMada­gas­car agreed to syn­er­gize de­vel­op­ment strate­gies un­der the frame­work of the Belt and Road based on its ex­pe­di­ency and util­ity in ac­cel­er­at­ing de­vel­op­ment.

For the most part, African lead­ers and or­di­nary cit­i­zens have so far wel­comed Belt and Road and China’s in­volve­ment in the con­ti­nent with pos­i­tive sen­ti­ments be­cause of the con­tri­bu­tion and fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment China brings to Africa. One of the key fac­tors con­tribut­ing most to China’s pos­i­tive im­age is the ex­per­tise and cap­i­tal for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment that the coun­try brings and the promis­ing prospects of man­u­fac­tur­ing in­vest­ment ex­pected to soon fol­low.

While it is clear that China’s in­fras­truc­tural foot­print is in Africa to stay through the Belt and Road and other ini­tia­tives, Africa looks for­ward to more tan­gi­ble eco­nomic ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­larly in set­ting up man­u­fac­tur­ing bases and in­creased job cre­ation.

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