BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — When the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit opens in Beijing on Monday with the theme “China and Africa: Toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation,” it will be a new starting point for the two sides to upgrade their cooperation.
China and Africa have been cooperating in multiple ways. The ties were enhanced when the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which envisions a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond, was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and aligned itself with Agenda 2063, the African Union’s blueprint for the transformation of the continent over 50 years, and the development strategies of individual African countries.
Looking ahead, with the global situation changing, China and Africa will enrich their cooperation to combat climate change, eradicate poverty and promote global governance.
A number of major Chinese-assisted infrastructure projects in Africa are creating jobs for local communities and boosting the economy. They include the railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti, the Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya, and the Maputo Cross-Sea Bridge in Mozambique.
Chris Morara, a 40-year-old Kenyan, has witnessed the growth of the industrial hub along the Athi River outside Nairobi since the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) train service started last year.
The father of three said the SGR has boosted his business of transporting passengers and cargo, the bulk of which is from the Athi River terminus.
“We usually camp at the river’s SGR terminus at 1 p.m. to wait for customers,” Morara said. “The SGR train has created employment opportunities, promoted business and made transport more efficient.”
The China-funded modern railway is estimated to have boosted Kenya’s GDP by 1.5 percent and provided 46,000 jobs to locals. About 300 domestic enterprises were sub-contracted during its construction, according to official figures.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called the SGR railway “a new chapter” in the country’s history.
Across the continent, the 275-MW Soubre hydroelectric power station in Cote d’Ivoire, built by a Chinese company, was completed eight months in advance since work started in 2013, creating a new “Chinese miracle.”
“This is the fourth year I’ve been working for the hydropower plant project and I really appreciate the job opportunity,” Kouadio Alphonse, a 31-year-old topographer with three children, said. “My Chinese fellow workers taught me pragmatic skills and I learned from them their hardworking spirit. This is an important lesson that will benefit me all my life.”
SHARING WEAL AND WOE
During the Ebola outbreak in Africa between 2014 and 2015, China sent several medical teams to the affected countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, to help combat the disease.
Liberian President George Weah thanked Beijing for the much-needed assistance.
“When you have a friend, you cannot forget your friend … China has a bond with Liberia. That relationship cannot be forgotten. We want to strengthen it,” Weah said.
In turn, Africa supported China during hard times. In April 2010, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Yushu, a Tibetan prefecture in west China, killing over 2,600 people.
For the post-quake reconstruction, the Republic of the Congo funded an elementary school in Chengduo, a county in Yushu.
Speaking at a ceremony at the completion of the school building, Basile Ikouebe, then Congo’s foreign minister, said although his country’s economic capacity was limited, it should extend help.
In south Mozambique’s Gaza Province, local farmers are deriving the benefits of Wanbao, a Chinese rice farm project under a “company plus farmer” cooperation model.
The project provides initial investment for infrastructure and other inputs, including production materials, modern machinery, technology and farm maintenance, while the farmers sign plantation and sales agreements with the company. The project also provides skill training to the eager farmers.
Matilde Filomone Mariquele, a mother of five, was born and raised in the area where the project is developing agricultural activities. At the end of the harvest, she sold her produce to the company. After the deduction of the initial costs of production, the remaining profits were for her to keep.
“With the money, my life has improved a lot. I have built my house and my children are going to school,” she said.
A SHARED FUTURE
In Kenya, Kenya-based company Africa Economic Zones Ltd. and China’s Guangdong New South Group Ltd. have jointly developed a special economic zone.
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said the project will enable Kenyans to benefit from the vast manufacturing experience China has accumulated over the past 30 years.
More and more African countries are working with China to learn from China’s development experience through equal consultations.
Herman Musahara, a professor at the School of Economics at the University of Rwanda, said Africa needs a reliable partner to help it overcome the gaps in infrastructure and industrialization and China is that perfect partner.
China’s assistance to Africa has not been limited to one particular country, but covers the overall development of Africa, Kader Diop, a professor at Dakar University’s School of Journalism, said.
“China is a sincere partner for most African countries,” said Ismael Buchanan, dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the University of Rwanda.
China will play an important role in protecting the overall interest of developing countries, pushing forward the social and economic development of Africa, and safeguarding the security and stability of sub-Saharan Africa, Buchanan said.