The gains of emergent forum on China-Africa cooperation

Chinese President Xi Jinping (4th left), President Muhammadu Buhari (3rd right) with other African leaders at the opening ceremony of the forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, China yesterday
Chinese President Xi Jinping (4th left), President Muhammadu Buhari (3rd right) with other African leaders at the opening ceremony of the forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, China yesterday

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit which was concluded last week in Beijing, the Chinese capital is revolutionary and momentous in many respects.  Apart from its high profile attendance as virtually all the African Heads of State were present including President Muhamammadu Buhari of Nigeria; the gathering provided a remarkable shift in international diplomacy. It was one  rare diplomatic event in which leaders of the African region  turned out en masse to interface genuinely with China on a trajectory of win-win cooperation

There were remarkable gains   that flowed from the summit to demonstrate its applicability and desirability to African development .  First is China and Africa’s leaders’ submission that the platform is geared towards provoking mutual benefits, shared interests, united future and common development among the member nations. Second is the commitment and resolve of China and other nations towards co-existing on a fresh path of mutual respect, fairness, equity contrary to the inequity that defines Western nations relationship with African nations


While declaring the summit open, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping  reinforced his country’s resolve towards ensuring that the win-win mantra is candidly and earnestly undertaken. According to him, China would follow the principle of giving more and taking less, giving before taking and giving without asking for return; noting that with open arms, China welcomes African countries aboard the express train of China’s development.

Xi is seemingly right.  It is evident that China and African partnership which gained prominence in the last decade has indeed been on the basis of  China conceding  more to the African continent. Apart from the $60b Chinese aid to Africa announced by Xi as one of the key outcomes of the summit, records show that China invests more in Africa than any other region, with Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola among the biggest recipients of Chinese funds.  This reality has been eloquently acknowledged by some top government officials in Africa. Ethiopian Minister of Communications Affairs, Negro Lencho had noted that China support to Ethiopia led to the growth of the nation’s economy and infrastructure. According to him, China is one of the major countries Ethiopia counts on for its development


Moreover, scores of African hospitals have been built with Chinese funds in recent years. In 2013, a year after assuming office as Chinese President, Xi Jinping inaugurated a state-of-the art-hospital facility and   a new University library in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo built with Chinese funds. Besides, the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was built with $200 million of Chinese state funds. In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, the $8.3 billion Lagos-Kano rail line is largely funded through Chinese loans. These are just a tip of an iceberg as China has been able to make and still making great infrastructural development in-roads into Africa in recent times.

Besides, China Belt and Road Initiative, originated by President Xi is another huge outlet that would be of immense benefits to Africa and greatly redefines globalization.   According to the Chinese government’s official plans, BRI has two African hubs: Kenya and Egypt. But Chinese-funded rail and communication networks are also linking other East African countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda to the BRI route. The most notable of these is Djibouti, the home of China’s first overseas military base, key to combating piracy along the African leg of the BRI sea route. BRI is also expected to spur desperately needed development all along Africa’s eastern and western seaboard

To further demonstrate his country’s affinity to Africa, Xi has since assuming duty as Chinese leader in 2012 undertaken official trip to Africa four times perhaps the highest any President outside the shores of Africa has recorded. At the just concluded summit he set a fresh but remarkable tone on his country’s bilateral relationship with Africa.   “Going forward, China will do more to help Africa alleviate poverty, pursue development, increase employment and income, and better the lives of its people”, he noted.

Xi also spoke of his commitment towards building a China-Africa community with a shared future that delivers happiness and makes lives better for Chinese and Africans in so doing stimulating real benefits to them. It is therefore incontrovertible to note that Africa now has a compelling and fascinating deal that is not only revolutionary but germane for its much -needed development. This makes it imperative for African leaders to embrace with intensity and sincerity China’s hand of friendship given its win-win mantra and manifestations

In real and comparative terms, China’s emerging partnership with Africa appears far more beneficial to Africa than its centuries of exploitative relationship with the West. This sentiment was shared by some African leaders at the end of the Beijing summit concluded last week. The current African Union Chairman, Paul Kagame of Rwanda believes strongly that the new China and African bond would be more favorable to Africa and that China is a more respectful partner than Europe and America.

Moreover, the new South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa who also attended the summit noted that the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation is a vision that will lead to “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”. These well-based observations make it instructive for President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders to work jointly and profoundly towards ensuring that the emerging win-win cooperation with China is a huge success for enhanced mutual benefits

Mohammed Jamu, Senior Special Assistant to Speaker, House of Representatives wrote from Abuja

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