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China in Africa; lifting the surge of cooperation

China in Africa; lifting the surge of cooperation

As we read this piece, the Chinese people must be going through some sort of political transition, moving from one political administration to another. This transition will see a new set of political leaders assuming the leadership mantle of the People’s Republic of China. Despite what you may think, China is a great country that has made great impact in world’s development.  It is a country I have appreciated in recent times, more so, when one takes a look at the level of support they continue pouring into Africa. China’s support to Africa has often come through the Import-Export Bank of China, which is the world’s third largest export credit agency, with a mandate to implement state policies in industry, foreign trade and economy, finance and foreign affairs.

The vast majority of infrastructure financing arrangements done by China in the African continent are reportedly financed by the China Exim Bank. The Bank has financed over 300 projects in Africa, with infrastructure, being the core of its undertakings. During the 2012 fifth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, on Thursday, 19th,  the first of such conference to be held in the second decade since its formation in 2000, Hu Jintao made the strongest case for the African continent when he asked that the continent should be given space in world’s affairs and that since in recent years, African countries and people, with perseverance and vision have made tremendous achievements in promoting development, there is the need for the international community to not only give high priority to enhancing peace and development in Africa but to also   “respect Africa’s wish, listen to its views, address its concerns and help it meet the Millennium Development Goals at an early date.”

It is a truism that China is the world’s largest developing country, whilst Africa is the home to the largest number of developing nations in the world. There is therefore the need to underscore the fact that China and Africa, together with over one third of the world’s population, are an important force for advancing world peace and development. It was on this basis that Hu Jintao highlighted five points action plan for cooperation between China and Africa; that they will open up new prospects in building a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. They include; opening  up new prospects for the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, in terms of working towards strengthening the political mutual trust between  China and Africa; work towards expanding practical cooperation between China and Africa, increasing cultural and people-to-people exchanges ,increasing coordination and cooperation in international affairs and working towards making FOCAC more stronger.

China’s strategic role in Africa’s socio-economic development cannot be overstated, given the resource importance of China in not just the Asian continent but in world’s development.  Wei Jianguo is the Secretary-General of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. When asked about what impressed him most about Sino-Africa economic cooperation, by CHINA-AFRICA  of  20th December 2011 edition , (a publication by the International Business Daily, at the Ministry of Commerce, in the People’s Republic of China), he specifically looked at China’s investment in  Africa thus, the investment  in Africa by China  has been largely on  infrastructure facilities, educational training and other large projects  and that “China surpasses the United States, France and Japan in their separate African investments…” This must be an outstanding impression he must have got, following what China is doing in Africa. Africa, no doubt is, economically and democratically a progressing continent, but as written by Zheng Minyi, Africans should live up to the challenges faced by the fast growth the continent is experiencing.

It should be noted, that there are more than 6,000 branches of Chinese related companies across Africa with some 2,000 investments in the continent. In Malawi for instance, China’s first investment program in that country following the signing of diplomatic ties years back is through the Malawi Cotton project, with funding from the China-Africa Development Fund. CADFund was established in 2006 as the first equity investment fund in the country, primarily focusing on investment in Africa. It has an aim of enhancing China-Africa economic cooperation and promotes Africa’s development through direct investment. This investment in Malawi is believed to be the largest China-related agriculture investment in Africa. The China-Africa Development Fund is one of several ways through which Chinese enterprises are encouraged to invest in Africa. Also, trade between Ghana and China, according to the publication earlier referred to reach US $ 1.27712 billion exceeding US $ 1 Billion for the first time, according to data in 2007 and   China’s imports from Ghana are to   increase by 150% and such imports include, but not limited to rubber and cocoa.

China, the world’s second largest economy and the largest exporter of manufactured goods has continued to play a leading role in international trade especially across Africa. It has significantly contributed to Africa’s economic growth. Wen Jiabao was/is the Premier of the State Council. He once delivered a report on the work of the government on the 5th of March 2012 at the Great Hall of the People, at the initial stages of the Fifth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress. He used the ceremony to speak on a number of issues, ranging from the country’s GDP, which he said, reached 47.2 trillion Yuan, reflecting an increase of 9.2% over the previous year, with government revenue of 10.37 trillion Yuan, to major tasks for government in 2012. This is how China has been growing.

Sierra Leone has been no exception to the socio-economic gains that African countries continue to enjoy from China.  From the viewpoint of trade relations and economic and technical cooperation, to exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education and health, there have been positive ties between the two countries. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in the early 1970s, China has continued to be of help to Sierra Leone. The Sino-Sierra Leone cooperation of mutual benefit started from 1984 and it has been making serious progress since then. China’s strategic importance in Africa is   huge and critically needed at this time, that when we look at the investment potentials in third world countries like Sierra Leone, such investments potentials should be explored.

There are several investment potentials in Sierra Leone, as we have today, under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma a bang in the country’s mineral sector, with mining companies like African Minerals and London Mining making tremendous progress in not only promoting the country’s image at the international scene as a business friendly environment, but also helping in the area of unemployment. The President’s Agenda for Prosperity contains a lot of development initiatives and this is where countries like China will continue to play an important and critical role, as always. The investment potentials in Sierra Leone’s agriculture are among the best in West Africa, having a “diverse climate, plentiful; rainfall, good soil and abundant land to be cultivated…” (Page 17 of LOKWE Magazine-July, 2011 Edition). There is another great potential area in Sierra Leone and that is the fisheries and marine resource sector.  Government’s commitment to fully bring to light the potentials in the fisheries sector could not be underestimated, especially following the introduction of a West Africa sub regional programme on fisheries.  That said another intervention in the fisheries and marine sectors could be through the construction of fisheries harbour complex, which practically could be of great help to our country. But in all of this, we cannot overstate the need for China to continue playing her traditional role of teaching people how to fish, than giving fish to us.

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