Bigger stage set for China-Africa cooperation

2023 BRICS Summit

(From left to right: President of China Xi Jinping, President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi gesture during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Marco Longari | AFP

The recent 15th BRICS Summit in South Africa attracted worldwide attention and concluded with abundant achievements. Significant progress in China-Africa cooperation has been made.

On August 24 in Johannesburg, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa co-chaired the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue. President Xi announced a number of new measures to promote China-Africa cooperation and help the continent with its economic integration and modernisation efforts.

China has proved to be a true and trustworthy friend of Africa. In 2013, while in the continent on his first foreign visit as the Chinese leader, President Xi announced the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith for China’s Africa policy. Over the past 10 years, China has stayed committed to this principle.

Despite the vicissitudes of the times, the two sides have elevated China-Africa relations to new heights and entered the new stage of jointly building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.

China has become Africa's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years and is the largest destination for African exports. Statistics indicate bilateral trade grew 11 per cent to $282 billion in 2022, accounting for 20 per cent of Africa's total foreign trade.

Since 2000, China has built more than 6,000 kilometres of railways and roads each, as well as nearly 20 ports and over 80 large power facilities in Africa. A large number of the Belt and Road flagship projects have been completed and put into use in Africa, playing an important role in the continent's industrialisation process and economic transformation.

China-Kenya cooperation has always been in the spotlight with mega projects such as the SGR, the Nairobi Expressway and the Global Trade Center standing out in infrastructure and investment cooperation.

Kenyan avocados and anchovies have become important options for the Chinese consumer market. The Kenya-China Belt and Road Joint Laboratory for Crop Molecular Biology at Egerton University and the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) provide technological and resource support in crop breeding and personnel training.

The world is undergoing transformation and turmoil and changes unseen in a century are unfolding at a faster pace. All countries face the tasks of how to address the deficit in development, overcome security challenges and increase mutual learning between civilisations.

To chart the course for China-Africa practical cooperation in the next stage and assist in Africa’s integration and modernisation, President Xi last month, in Johannesburg, made the following three proposals: The Initiative on Supporting Africa’s Industrialisation, the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernisation and the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development.

On industrialisation, China will better harness its resources for cooperation with Africa and the initiative of businesses to support the continent in growing its manufacturing sector and realising industrialisation and economic diversification. In implementing the nine programmes under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China will channel more resources of assistance, investment and financing toward programmes for industrialisation.

On agricultural modernisation, China will help Africa to expand grain production and encourage Chinese companies to increase agricultural investment in the continent. It will also enhance bilateral cooperation on seed and other areas of agro-technology to support Africa in transforming and upgrading its agricultural sector. In November, China will host the second China-Africa Agriculture Cooperation Forum in Hainan. It will also provide additional emergency food assistance to some African countries in need.

On talent development, China plans to train 500 principals and high-calibre teachers of vocational colleges every year and 10,000 technical personnel with both Chinese language and vocational skills for Africa. China will invite 20,000 government officials and technicians from African countries to participate in workshops and seminars. To support Africa in strengthening education and innovation, China will launch the China-Africa Universities 100 Cooperation Plan and 10 pilot exchange programmes of China-Africa partner institutes.

China is marching towards the Second Centenary Goal of building itself into a great modern socialist country in all respects. It is pursuing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts, through a Chinese path to modernisation.

Africa is moving at an accelerated speed towards the bright prospects envisioned in the African Union's (AU) Agenda 2063 and making all-out efforts to build a new Africa that enjoys peace, unity, prosperity and strength. The Kenyan government and people are also actively promoting pursuing the BETA Plan and the Kenya Vision 2030.

Looking ahead, China will work with Africa to enhance the synergy of our development strategies. Through Belt and Road cooperation and the FOCAC, and in light of Agenda 2063, China will intensify dialogue and communication with Africa at various levels and support the African agencies for integration in creating cooperation mechanisms with China.

China will continue to support Africa in speaking with one voice on international affairs and continuously elevating its international standing. China actively supported the granting to the AU full membership to the G20 at the recent summit of the group held in India. China also supports making special arrangements for the UN Security Council reform to meet Africa’s aspiration as a priority. China will call on multilateral financial institutions to enhance the say of African countries.

China views and grows China-Kenya relations from a strategic height and stands ready to work with Kenya to take the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as a new starting point to align both countries' strategies for revitalisation, focus on development and cooperation and bring the China-Kenya comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new level in the new era.

The third BRI Summit will be held in China in October. Next year, China will also host the FOCAC meeting. Those two important meetings will draw up new plans for our development. Under the framework of BRI and FOCAC, and driven by the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative, China will firmly support African partners in realising better development.

Dr Zhou is China's Ambassador to Kenya. [email protected].