Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Win for Africa’s Development

It’s Time for Africa

Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent

By He Wenping- JULY 5, 2018

A Chinese engineer collaborates with Kenyan workers on the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on April 9, 2016 (XINHUA)

As agreed by both China and Africa, China will host the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) this September. Wang Yi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, made the announcement on the sidelines of the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in South Africa on June 4.

The upcoming summit will be themed Win-Win Cooperation and Join Hands to Build a Closer Community with a Shared Future for China and Africa. Wang said China and Africa will endeavor to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) and the development strategies of various African nations to create more opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, and to open up new prospects for common development.

The First FOCAC Summit was held in Beijing in 2006, and 12 years on leaders from China and Africa will once again gather in Beijing to usher in a new era of Sino-African cooperation. This summit, the third in FOCAC’s 18-year history, demonstrates the value that China places on Sino-African ties and promises to drive the China-Africa friendship to new historic heights.

Proactive attitude

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago, more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world have shown interest, of which more than 80 have signed cooperation agreements with China involving Belt and Road projects. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road.

Africa is a continent rich in resources with great market potential, but it is in dire need of robust infrastructure. It is proactively participating in Belt and Road construction with other countries along the routes in the hope that its economy can make a leap.

As Wang said when he visited Africa in January, the African continent must be at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative and must not be left behind by China or the wider world in terms of development.

FOCAC was established in October 2000, 13 years prior to the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. China pursues common, intensive, safe, open and green development in its cooperation with African countries, which neatly dovetails with its commitment to innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for everyone at home. Nearly 18 years of evolution have established FOCAC as a symbol of international cooperation, which allows the organization to provide precious experience to the Belt and Road construction across different regions and fields.

Advancing interconnection

Inadequate infrastructure is a bottleneck that constrains Africa’s economic development. Poor transport facilities and substandard roads have created exorbitant costs in domestic and regional trade, as well as impeding foreign investment.

Financing for Africa’s infrastructure needs faces an annual shortfall of at least $20 billion. In addition, most African countries have a low level of industrialization, and the contribution of industry to their economies is correspondingly small. However, Africa is a continent with abundant resources, low labor costs and great market potential, while China has significant advantages in capital, technology and equipment, as well as a wealth of experience in transforming from an agricultural to an industrial society. At a time when China is undergoing a fundamental phase of economic transition and upgrading, there is plenty of high-quality capacity and advanced equipment and technology available for outward transfer, much of which is ideally suited to Africa’s needs.

Just as the Chinese people harbor the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, the African people hold the African dream of achieving development and alleviating poverty. Connectivity and industrialization are essential preconditions and the only path toward the realization of this dream. The Belt and Road Initiative can work in harmony with Africa’s development strategy for the 21st century. It can provide new drive for the sustainable development of Sino-African relations and help Africa take a step forward, blazing a new trail for South-South cooperation.

China and the AU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure construction cooperation on January 27, 2015. According to the MOU, under the strategic framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda, China will enhance cooperation with African nations on railways, highways, regional airlines and industrialization to promote African integration. Chinese enterprises have already launched construction projects in these fields in countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

For example, the Huajian Group, a shoe producer from Dongguan in south China’s Guangdong Province, began operating in the Ethiopia Oriental Industrial Park at the end of 2011. By the end of 2017, Huajian had become the largest private Chinese investor in Ethiopia, generating $122 million of foreign exchange income and creating 7,500 new jobs for the local population. The company produces over 5 million pairs of women’s shoes each year, accounting for more than 65 percent of the Ethiopian shoe industry’s total exports. On September 1, 2017, the Ethiopian Government awarded Zhang Huarong, Chairman of the Board of the Huajian Group, the honorary title of “Father of Ethiopia’s Industry” for his contribution to the country’s development. Inspired by its success in Ethiopia, the Huajian Group plans to invest in Rwanda, Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa in the future.

The China-built Nyerere Bridge, linking the business area of Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam to the Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, is the largest cable-stayed cross-sea bridge in sub-Saharan Africa (XINHUA)

Driving force

At the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in South Africa in December 2015, China and participating African countries agreed to carry out 10 major cooperation plans in the following three years. The ultra-intensive plans, worth around $60 billion, cover industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty alleviation, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The foremost of these is cooperation on industrialization to promote the progress of African development. In order to facilitate this, the first China-Africa Capacity Cooperation Fund—worth $10 billion—has been set up, alongside the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the China-Africa Development Fund each with a capital of $5 billion.

Industrial cooperation between China and Africa has already begun to bear fruit. As one of the first African countries to join China in international industrialization cooperation, Tanzania has signed a framework agreement with China on supporting key projects of the country’s ongoing five-year plan.

The construction of infrastructure and industrial parks is also making rapid progress. China has assisted Africa in building several railway lines, including one connecting the port city of Mombasa in Kenya to its capital Nairobi, another connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, and a third connecting Angola and Nigeria.

As Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the opening ceremony of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on May 31, 2017, the new line is “one of the cornerstones to Kenya’s journey of transformation to an industrial, prosperous and middle-income country.”

The author is a researcher with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a senior researcher with the Charhar Institute

 

Discussions in Washington with African Union to Save Lake Chad

July 11, 2018

I had fruitful discussions in Washington DC with the African Union on the subject of saving Lake Chad with the Transaqua inter-basin water project.

Lawrence Freeman with Arikana Chihombori, African Union Ambassador to Washington DC

 

Lawrence Freeman with HE Kwesi Quarey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, Addis-Ababa

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China’s Inroads into Africa Trigger Envy and Allegations

By Mark Kapchanga

Globaltimes.cn 2018/2/20

Allegations of spying and surveillance pop up every day on the global political stage. They are, however, not always true but driven by malice. A database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that as of August 2015, there were 1,419 active satellites in orbit around the earth mainly used for the collection of intelligence.

From time immemorial, revelations of spying always provoke outrage. In his famous treatise The Art of War, Chinese general Sun Tzu says: “Enlightened rulers and good generals who can obtain intelligent agents as spies are sure to make great achievements.”

As recent as 2016, new documents made public by Wikileaks revealed that the US spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private conversations with world leaders. The secret files showed that the National Security Agency listened in as Merkel had private conversations with other European heads of government and with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. But even before the dust settled on this accusation, in late 2017 Berlin claimed Beijing was using LinkedIn to infiltrate political and business circles in Germany. The assertion followed claims from a German intelligence service that 10,000 of its citizens were targeted by Chinese spies, an allegation that China refuted.

In most cases, allegations of spying and surveillance cause strains between countries, and at times, even sever diplomatic ties. Informed that such claims can create a rift between regions, a French paper Le Monde carried a story on allegations that China has been spying on African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa for six years. In what appears to have been a manufactured story, Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who said the alleged transfer of data was taking place at night. The story went further to say the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building was opened.

Trade between China and Africa has been rising thanks to policy benefits from a cooperative plan laid down by Chinese and African leaders in South Africa in 2015. At the summit, President Xi Jinping announced plans to invest $60 billion into African development projects, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and write off some debt. 

As an example of strong relations between Africa and China, trade between them rose by 16.8 percent to $38.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017. On the other hand, China’s non-financial direct investment in Africa expanded by 64 percent in the first quarter of 2017 as countries such as Djibouti, Senegal and South Africa all saw a more than 100 percent rise in the quarter. 

The negative reportage about Sino-African relations by Western media has also been fueled by envy due to strengthening ties. The ambitious global trading strategy, known as the Belt and Road initiative, which appeared to be gaining traction recently, particularly in parts of East Africa where major infrastructure and defense projects are being built, is also likely to buoy China’s growing investments in Africa. The spying allegations are not the first media story being published by Western media with the aim of creating a gulf between Africa and China.

While free media is desired in any economy, there needs to be a sense of responsibility and professionalism in the practice. China’s presence in Africa has had its challenges no doubt. But Western media cannot spend acres of editorial space criticizing China for “increased corruption in Africa, for exploiting Africa’s natural resources, for environmental degradation, poor wages for employees, among others.”

In particular, the media has become obsessed with the claim that Chinese firms are winning mega tenders in African countries by paying bribes. This is absolutely not true. Chinese firms have not only shown that they qualify to execute these major infrastructural projects but they have also shown their unrivaled muscles in completing them in record time at a relatively low cost.

Perhaps it is now time that the Western countries upped their games in investing and trading with Africa if they are to compete favorably with China in Africa. Claims that Chinese firms bribe locals to win tenders are utterly false. Crucially, media should engage in constructive reporting for posterity.

The author is a researcher and expert on China-Africa cooperation based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow him on Twitter:@kapchanga. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Nigeria Hosts Global Conference: Save Lake Chad from Extinction

Fisherman standing in Lake Chad, November 2014

Since 1963, Lake Chad has been allowed to diminish from  from a vast 25,000 square kilometers to a now unacceptable level of 2,500 square kilometers.  As a consequence of the inaction to reverse the shrinking lake, over 30 million Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, and depend upon fishing and farming for their livelihoods, have suffered greatly. Boko Haram has exploited this severely depressed  condition to recruit youths, whose future appears bleak. Finally, this dire crisis; the shrinking Lake Chad, is being addressed at a global conference in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018Historic Lake Chad Conference, which I will be a participant: my role at the conference.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Water Resources, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, and Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi, should be congratulated for initiating the first global gathering on the African continent to discuss solutions to reprenish Lake Chad. by transferring water from the Congo River.

It is time for Africans to think big. We can return Lake Chad to its former size, transform the Lake Chad Basin, and create a corridor of economic development between the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad basin with the mega inter-basin water transfer project: Transaqua

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Abimbola Akosile THISDAYLIVE

February 1, 2018

The Federal Government of Nigeria, on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, is planning to host an international Conference from February 26 to 28 in Abuja on proffering solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. This was disclosed by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed paid him a recent courtesy visit in Abuja.

Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference is to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydro-logical perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region who depend on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction”, he said.

The Minister proposed for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the PowerChina International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualised by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.

Adamu said the study done by PowerChina shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the lake. To him, this would halt the receding of the lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change, according to a release issued by the Ministry’s Director (Information & Public Relations Unit), Mrs. Margaret Umoh.

Speaking further, he called for more workable solutions that may be cheaper than the inter-basin water transfer. On the issue of cooperation between Nigeria and the UN on the re-integration of the people of the North-east ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, the Minister said part of the ministry’s efforts in cushioning the effects of the insurgency in that region under this present administration in the past two years has been by budgeting about N1 billion annually for water supply and sanitation facilities for the IDPs nationwide.

Earlier, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mohammed said the purpose of the high-level mission, which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues, will help scale up UN presence in the North-east in particular and Nigeria in general.

She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned conference of saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February. She charged Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.

Presidents of Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria Speak-out

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi Reiterates Egypt’s Orientation Is Toward Africa

           President el-Sisi, in a timely reiteration of a theme in his 2014 inaugural address, told the UN General Assembly Sept. 19 that “Africa lies at the heart of Egypt’s foreign policy.” He also condemned the current world order for its hypocrisy and its reliance on “conflict and zero-sum games,” and had sharp remarks about the state of affairs in Libya and Syria.

          Concerning Africa, el-Sisi said, “As Egypt’s geographical home, Africa lies at the heart of Egypt’s foreign policy, for it is in Africa that our historic roots lie, and it is from Africa that we derive pride in our identity and our deep sense of

belonging. This continent has also become subject to the same security threats facing the Arab region, and constitutes a major example of the crisis in the current international economic order, which cements poverty and economic disparity. This global order bears a major responsibility in the economic, political and social crises that threaten international peace and stability, rendering any discussion on sustainable development goals futile.”

          Leaders in Black Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, the era of African (political) independence–such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Senegal’s Cheikh Anta Diop–looked to ancient Egypt and the Egypt of their contemporary, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, as a source of inspiration.

          El-Sisi repeatedly condemned the current world order, and pointed to the alternative, saying in one place, “Force and zero-sum games cannot remain as a means to realize interests, especially in today’s world, which is based on mutual interdependence among nations, and where significant horizons for cooperation and understanding exist to achieve the common interests of everyone….”

          “This requires,” he said, “involving developing countries more in the international economic governance structure and facilitating their access to easier financing, markets, and technology transfer.”

          Turning to the Arab region’s crises, with emphasis on Syria, he said that these crises can only be resolved by “upholding the notion of the modern nation-state.” There will be “no salvation for Syria except through a consensual political solution amongst all Syrians at the core of which is the preservation of the unity

of the Syrian state, the maintenance of its institutions, and the broadening of their political and social base to include all factions of the Syrian society, and to decisively counter terrorism until it is defeated.”

          On Libya, Iraq, and Yemen, he said: “Egypt will not allow the continuation of attempts to tamper with the unity and integrity of the Libyan state, or to undermine the capabilities of the Libyan people. We will continue to work diligently with the UN to achieve a political settlement based on the Sokhairat Agreement. The aforementioned logic applies to the Egyptian strategy regarding the crises in Iraq and Yemen.”

South African President Zuma’s Message at the UNGA: No  More Regime Change, Anywhere!

           President Jacob Zuma’s assertive address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 20 included a denunciation, in detail, of regime change as a threat to world peace and development. It seems clear that his message was directed especially to U.S. President Donald Trump.

          He said in part: “In 2011, the African Union called for dialogue to resolve the crisis in Libya. Unfortunately, some among us here opted for guns and bombs. Today those countries are making little effort to promote stability in Libya. The major focus and preoccupation has become how to deal with the flow of migrants arriving in Europe from our continent and the Middle East, which are just mere symptoms.

          “The war in Libya contributed a great deal to the destabilization of the Sahel region and all the way to Central Africa, creating a corridor for illicit trafficking in arms as well as terrorist activities.

          “In fact, had our warning been heeded, that the supply of arms to civilians in Libya and the arming of civilians in Syria would cause loss of life, great instability, and mayhem, the world would be more peaceful today.

          “South Africa continues to call for an immediate end to the violence and for a Syrian-led political transition and a negotiated settlement reflecting the will of the Syrian people.

          “In both instances of Libya and Syria, we strongly cautioned against seeking to resolve internal challenges of sovereign states by imposing foreign solutions through military means.”

          Regarding North Korea, he said:

          “We continue with our call for calm in the Korean Peninsula. The situation cannot be allowed to get out of hand. …. It can no longer be acceptable that some few countries keep arsenals and stockpiles of nuclear weapons as part of their strategic defense and security doctrine, while expecting others to remain at their mercy.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Speaking on October 1.

Below are excerpts from President Buhari’s address to the Nation of Nigeria on the 57th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule

                 “Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy. As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2m lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through
                “December last year, this Administration has produced over 7 million 50Kg bags of fertilizer. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150 million in foreign exchange and N60 billion in subsidy. Fertilizer prices have dropped from N13,000 per 50Kg bag to N5,500.

              “Furthermore, a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the Federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

               “Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all — time high of 7,001 Megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedeviling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.

               “Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and Hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off.

               “Elsewhere in the economy, the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.

               “The country has recorded 7 consecutive months of lower inflation, and the Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.