The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive: New Life for China-africa Co­op­er­a­tion

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive

China Pictorial (English) - - NEWS - Text by Ehizue­len Michael Mitchell Omoruyi The au­thor is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Nige­rian Stud­ies at the In­sti­tute of African Stud­ies at Zhe­jiang Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is broad­en­ing con­sen­sus, strength­en­ing friend­ship and pro­mot­ing in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in Africa.

More than a decade ago, the first for­mal China-africa sum­mit, of­fi­cially re­ferred to as the Fo­rum on China-africa Co­op­er­a­tion (FO­CAC), opened in Bei­jing on a bright Novem­ber morn­ing. This year, the meet­ing co­in­cides with China cel­e­brat­ing its four decades of re­form and open­ing up. It pro­vides a good op­por­tu­nity for Chi­nese and African lead­ers to deepen co­op­er­a­tion un­der the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­posed by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

The fact that China is shar­ing its amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and devel­op­ment over the past four decades with the rest of the world is a key el­e­ment of its re­cent suc­cess. China lifted hun­dreds of mil­lions of its peo­ple out of poverty, as at­tested by such in­sti­tu­tions as the World Bank, through in­vest­ment in ur­ban and ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture projects and mega-projects in trans­porta­tion, wa­ter and power. This is an un­par­al­leled achieve­ment that could be repli­cated in Africa.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, a ve­hi­cle in­tended to drive growth in re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity, is breath­ing life into China-africa co­op­er­a­tion by broad­en­ing con­sen­sus, strength­en­ing friend­ship and pro­mot­ing in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in Africa. The Ini­tia­tive has ex­panded China-africa co­op­er­a­tion to broader fron­tiers such as trade, in­fra­struc­ture, skills trans­fer, sports, tourism, medicine, tech­ni­cal man­age­ment and sci­en­tific re­search. It has also en­abled Chi­nese in­vest­ment and loans in Africa to pri­or­i­tize in­fra­struc­ture projects such as Kenya’s mon­u­men­tal Mom­basa-nairobi Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way.

The Ini­tia­tive has also helped pro­pel bi­lat­eral trade be­tween China and Africa re­cently. For ex­am­ple, China Cus­toms statis­tics sug­gested that China-africa trade was “off to a fly­ing start” with US$170 bil­lion in 2017, up by 14 per­cent year-onyear. Fur­ther­more, the trade vol­ume be­tween China and African economies reached US$116 bil­lion in the first seven months of 2018, up by 18.7 per­cent year-on-year.

Now, how African economies strate­gize by lever­ag­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is im­por­tant con­sid­er­ing the Ini­tia­tive is a good chan­nel for Africa to en­gage China more in in­fra­struc­ture. Tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist for Africa to se­cure Chi­nese fi­nanc­ing for its in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment to sup­port in­tra-con­ti­nen­tal trade, which will help fa­cil­i­tate the newly signed agree­ment to es­tab­lish the African Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Area.

Africa is also likely to ben­e­fit from the newly cre­ated China In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (CIDCA), which is de­signed to co­or­di­nate China’s for­eign aid pro­grams. The CIDCA in­sti­tu­tion­al­izes the mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial and win-win con­cept of “devel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tion” that is a key com­po­nent of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Africa has yet to climb the value chain of min­eral pro­cess­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing. With the Ini­tia­tive African economies could at­tract such fund­ing to add value to their nat­u­ral re­sources and pro­duce com­modi­ties, which would help the re­gion un­lock the full po­ten­tial of its nat­u­ral re­sources.

We are fac­ing dra­matic and dy­namic changes in the world. China and Africa have once again come to a cross­roads since both sides are un­der­go­ing eco­nomic and so­cial trans­for­ma­tion. Nu­mer­ous African economies are ex­cited about full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive to re­verse Africa’s anti-in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion process af­ter the failed ad­just­ment guided by Western “struc­tured re­forms” in the 1980s. The ul­ti­mate goal is to ac­cel­er­ate tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, job cre­ation and Africa’s com­pre­hen­sive trans­for­ma­tion.

China is now con­tin­u­ing di­ver­si­fied high-tech, la­bor-in­ten­sive and cap­i­tal-driven in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion with coun­tries across the African con­ti­nent as well as with is­lands nearby. It is cer­tain that the FO­CAC Bei­jing Sum­mit in Septem­ber 2018 has cre­ated even more im­pe­tus to ac­cel­er­ate the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion and fuel an eco­nomic leap for­ward in both China and Africa.

The Bei­jing Sum­mit of the Fo­rum on Chi­naAfrica Co­op­er­a­tion was held from Septem­ber 3 to 4, 2018. The photo shows a man tak­ing pic­tures of a flowerbed dec­o­ra­tion for the sum­mit. VCG

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