Belt and Road bodes well for Africa
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.