Africa must improve a range of issues if it were to achieve a rapid modernity, the Forum on Global Production Capacity and Business Cooperation was told during its recent occasion in Wuhan, Hubei China.
A number of speakers both from Africa, hosts the Chinese, and experts from elsewhere noted the poor infrastructure and governance as hindrances toward this goal.
This Forum comes as an effort to review areas of co-operation so far between China and Africa but taking into consideration that the existing co-operation are historical even at the time the two parties were facing almost simultaneous challenges.
A number of successful co-operation projects include the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) in mid 60s, the Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique, to construction of medical facilities in Algeria, industries in Mali to recent power supply projects and mobile communication networks.
The full weight has been job creation as well as improving development capabilities for tangible benefits of the two parties and for the creation of a better future of people’s lives.
Addressing the conference Ambassador Lin Songtian who is the Director General of African Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC, enumerated a number of challenges as follows: in some countries political transitions have been marked with startling situations at times intra-conflicts flares up into wars.
Growing insecurity in turn usually discourages further investments even in areas with great potentials. At times there is lack of sharing of interest within the same nations which can either lead to delays or even cancellation of projects all together.
But in certain circumstances investors must have a human face and start by supporting other initiatives than real investments due to abject poverty, famine, diseases and the like. “It will sound so awkward if you go with industrial construction while people are dying of hunger,” remarked the ambassador.
He elaborated that apart from political, social and economic reasons which hinders investments, another serious challenge is lack of reliable infrastructure. In this aspect it is difficult to penetrate in the interiors of the continent to the extent that a number of projects remain stagnant.
But also there is a serious scarcity of reliable energy, which always reduces the momentum of production in almost all sectors. He however appreciated that his nation recognizes the presence of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and areas of co-operation which were reached upon during the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation Summit (FOCAC) in South Africa in December 2015.
The seasoned diplomat also highlighted that some African countries are now severely affected by religious radicalism giving an example of Nigeria as a vivid example but also others though in mild forms.
He encouraged African countries to form a formidable union and solidarity in matters like food security, job creation, developmental co-operation and finding peaceful solution to impending challenges.
He gave assurance that his country will continue to support African countries in their efforts to revamp their economies reminding them that even President Xi Jinping had allowed the $60 billion in such a spirit.
Moreover, he counselled for preferential policies and that African economies have to explore potential market which assures mutual benefit. “It is in the spirit that my country has facilitated for the construction of the Mombasa –Nairobi Railway but appreciating local efforts.
Participants were also able to discuss the efficacy of the China –Africa Development Fund. The CAD-Fund was established in 2006 in order to address challenges facing the continent and support potential investment opportunities.
The fund has facilitated investors who were skeptical to pursue businesses in Africa due to associated risks. Through this support, Chinese investors have managed to create more than 2000 jobs in Nigeria in the textile, fibers and glass industries. This country has also benefited from construction of ports by Chinese companies.
Through this cooperation in Ghana the supplies of solar panels have changed lives of people, but in South Africa it has gone to as far as car assembly plants, and for a reliable supply of home appliances.
Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Murtala Mohammed said cooperation between China and his country has to large extent facilitated for a transfer of technology in many areas but mostly in his sector of industries.
In Zambia and Malawi projects have ranged from construction of food storage facilities, provision of television channels to construction of pharmaceutical companies.
Ethiopia is one of the countries which have been selected for new pilot projects, so far 630 people have been employed according to reports by the China-Africa Business Council. One of the biggest projects is a shoe factory which was opened in 2012.
There has been an establishment of light production with an intention to enhance this country’s foreign exchange reserve, but also for the sake of preparing a well trained labour force.
However, the main challenge has been lack of reliable power supply, in this way denying to a large extent benefits to the local community in comparison to what could have been the situation if there was a reliable power supply.
But good news is, China is planning to enhance efficiency of its industries in Africa and ensure that they employ not less than 60,000 people by the year 2020.