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‘Full scale’ humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ethiopia’s Tigray

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Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR's Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

A “full-scale humanitarian crisis” is unfolding as thousands of refugees flee ongoing fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region each day to seek safety in eastern Sudan, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported on Tuesday. 

More than 27,000 have now crossed into Sudan through crossing points in Kassala and Gedaref states, as well as a new location further south at Aderafi, where Ethiopian refugees started crossing over the weekend, according to UNHCR

The scale of the influx is the worst that part of the country has seen in over 20 years, according to the agency. 

“Women, men and children have been crossing the border at the rate of 4,000 per day since 10 November, rapidly overwhelming the humanitarian response capacity on the ground,” said Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesperson, briefing reporters in Geneva. 

“Refugees fleeing the fighting continue to arrive exhausted from the long trek to safety, with few belongings”, he added. 

According to news reports, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has indicated the military operation that was launched in response to the reported occupation of a Government military base by Tigrayan forces nearly two weeks ago, would continue, although he said it was now in its “final phase”.  

‘Needs continue to grow’ 

UN agencies, along with relief partners have ramped up assistance – delivering food rations, hot meals and clean water, as well as setting up latrines and temporary shelters. They are also supporting the Sudanese Government in its response. But the needs continue to grow.  

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is also supporting other humanitarian workers in its response, providing fuel for vehicles and generators in remote locations. The UN Humanitarian Air Service, managed by WFP, has also increased flights from three times per week to daily flights for aid workers. 

Since Saturday, UNHCR has relocated 2,500 refugees from the border to Um Raquba settlement site, in eastern Sudan. There is however, a “critical need” to identify more sites so that refugees can be relocated away from the border and can access assistance and services, said Mr. Baloch. 

UNHCR has also issued an emergency fundraising appeal, through which people can help provide urgent, lifesaving assistance to refugees. Click here to make a donation

‘On standby’ in Tigray 

Meanwhile in the Tigray region of Ethiopia itself, lack of electricity, telecommunications, fuel and cash, continue to severely hamper any humanitarian response, the UNHCR spokesperson said.  

“After nearly two weeks of conflict, reports of larger numbers of internally displaced grow daily, while the lack of access to those in need, coupled with the inability to move in goods to the region, remain major impediments to providing assistance,” he said. 

UNHCR and partners are on standby to provide assistance to the displaced in Tigray, including basic items, when access and security allow. 

The conflict is also a major ongoing concern for the Eritrean refugee population of nearly 100,000 in Tigray, who are reliant on assistance from UNHCR and partners.  

“Potential for further displacement of refugees inside the country is increasingly a real possibility … The humanitarian situation as result of this crisis is growing rapidly” he warned, reiterating UNCHR’s call for peace and urge all parties to respect the safety and security for all civilians in Tigray.

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Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC”

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The conditions of convening (the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC”) on November 29-30, 2021, in the Senegalese capital, “Dakar”, reflect the challenges faced by the two parties after the spread of the conditions of the Corona pandemic “Covid-19”. We find here that the “Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC” has inaugurated on October 2000 in a move that is in line with the requirements of the times, and reflects the common desire of the Chinese and African peoples to achieve peace, development and cooperation under the new circumstances. Over the course of more than 21 years, since the establishment of this forum, the cooperation mechanism between the Chinese and African parties has continuously developed, and made important achievements. This eighth ministerial meeting is held to review all opportunities for China-Africa cooperation, to open new horizons for the China-Africa strategic partnership and to emphasize the establishment of the (China-Africa Free Trade Area). The two sides will have to work out a future plan for cooperation between them in the next stage, to lay solid foundations for a new and greater development of China-Africa relations post (Covid-19) pandemic.

   So, the Egyptian researcher can identify the main objectives for helding the the (Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation “FOCAC”) on November 29-30, 2021, and the main agenda, planning and pledges for the benefits of the African continent and its people, as follows:

First: Agenda of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)

   Therefore, the most prominent points on the agenda are the fruitful cooperation and continuous support between the countries of the African continent and China. China is the largest developing country in the world, while Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries.  Hence, we find that the most prominent areas of current cooperation between the Chinese and African sides, are:

 1- Strengthen strategic alignment and political coordination and advance China-Africa cooperation in building the “Belt and Road”.

 2- Linking the “Belt and Road Initiative to the African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations” closely with all development strategies of African countries.

 3- Giving priority to the implementation of (the eight goals of China-Africa cooperation), which are:

(industrial development, enterprise connectivity, trade facilitation and green development, capacity building, health, public communication, and peace and security)

  This will surely increase the opportunities and impetus for China-Africa cooperation.

 4- Focusing on deepening the Sino-African partnership (as an important part of South-South cooperation), and these relations bring opportunities for Africa to add a new dynamism to the global economy.

 5- The China-Africa Cooperation Forum plays a greater role in (fighting poverty – raising Africa’s capacity for self-development – developing the green economy – enhancing human communication between the two parties).

 6- The African Union, with the support of the United Nations, works resolutely for cooperation between China and Africa, and makes joint efforts with both sides to achieve (permanent peace, development and prosperity in the world, especially the developing countries).

 7- The Chinese and African sides unanimously agree on (cooperation, win-win and common development), with the Chinese side continuing to adhere to the concept of transparency, justice and mutual benefit, and working with the African side to enhance mutual trust between China and Africa, thus pushing the relations of partnership and comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Africa to progress in a more depth and effectiveness way, with steady and continuous steps.

    In this way, it can be considered that China-Africa cooperation as a model of international partnership is part of international cooperation with Africa, which adheres to the criteria of (mutual benefit and win-win, openness and inclusiveness, learning from each other, employing the advantages of each and uniting efforts, jointly contributing to peace and development in Africa). Therefore, the Chinese strategy is based on respecting the sovereignty of African countries, listening to their views, paying attention to their positions, and fulfilling promises towards them.

 Second: The most prominent areas of China-Africa cooperation Forum within the framework of the “FOCAC”

   There are many areas of cooperation between China and the countries of the African continent within the framework of joint efforts with the “Forum on China-Africa Cooperation” FOCAC, and the most prominent areas of China-Africa cooperation, are:

First: Expanding cooperation in (investment and financing fields to help Africa achieve sustainable development). In this context, China pledged to provide $60 billion in loans to African countries to develop the infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized businesses sectors in Africa.

Second: Continuing to increase aid to Africa, including humanitarian and medical aid, after (Covid-19), so that the African peoples benefit from the fruits of development.  Hence, China will work to (increase the number of model centers for agricultural technology in Africa, train 30,000 Africans) in various specialties, provide thousands of government scholarships, and send 1,500 doctors from its medical missions to help eradicate epidemics and combat endemic diseases, viruses, Ebola and the coronavirus, as well as helping African countries build meteorological infrastructure and protect and manage forests.

Third: Supporting the African integration process to help the continent raise its development capacity.  In this context, China has established with Africa (Partnership Relations and Cooperation in the Implementation of Cross-Border and Regional Infrastructure Projects).

Fourth: Consolidating the friendship between the Chinese people and the African peoples to lay solid popular foundations for the common Sino-African development, by inviting China to launch the “Chinese-African People’s Friendship Campaign”, establish the “China-Africa Media Exchange Center” in China, and continue to implement the “Sino-African Joint Research Programme”.

Fifth: Strengthening peace and stability in Africa to create a secure environment for development in Africa.  This is through China’s launch of the “China-Africa Partnership and Cooperation Initiative to Strengthen Peace and Security”, and the Chinese government’s training of more African Union officials in (the field of peace and security affairs, conflict avoidance, development and peacekeeping).

     Accordingly, we can arrive at an important analysis, which is that the launch of the Sino-African development initiatives for cooperation within the framework of the “FOCAC Forum on China-Africa Cooperation” comes within the framework of the strategy of “South-South” cooperation efforts, as an exemplary cooperation between the Sino-African parties, especially with (the prominent role of Chinese banks and companies in financing and building power stations, railways, highways and ports, as well as communications infrastructure, fiber-optic cables and smart cities in African countries), and if these Chinese initiatives continue to implement their goals, China will be able to stimulate global and then African economic growth  China will meet the needs of developing countries for the long term.

Third: Evaluating the model and experience of the Ministerial Meeting and Sino-African Cooperation “FOCAC”

   By evaluating the model of China-Africa ministerial cooperation, the leaders of the Chinese and African sides have reached important consensus on all important issues with their unified voices. Therefore, the previous summits and ministerial meetings between China and the African Union were crowned with complete success and bore abundant fruits, and recorded a new historical page for Chinese-African relations, and formed (a new modern milestone for the model of South-South cooperation).  Among the most important messages, achievements and experience gained from previous ministerial meetings and summits between China and Africa,  as follows:

 1) We find the interest of the leaders of the Chinese and African sides to hold intense bilateral meetings or reciprocal meetings and visits, with the keenness of a number of leaders of African countries and governments to visit China (to exchange views in depth on bilateral relations and issues of common interest, especially those related to trade issues and joint investments between the two parties).

  2) Although more than 21 years have passed since the establishment of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, it came in line with the trend of the times and developed with the progress of China-Africa cooperation, and it has become more mature and complete with the passage of time, and it has become (a landmark for international cooperation with Africa and a model for South-South cooperation).  .

 3) Here, the “Eighth Ministerial Meeting of Africa and China” aims to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership and cooperation relations between China and Africa from a new historical perspective, and open a new historical path for it, with joint efforts made to activate and strengthen the (China-Africa Cooperation Forum), and for (implementation of the outcomes of the summit of the previous “FOCAC” to support cooperation with Beijing in a comprehensive and effective manner, bringing (tangible benefits to the peoples of the Chinese and African sides).

 4) When we evaluate the most important measures taken by the Chinese government in the eighth ministerial meeting, in addition to the previous meetings that brought China together with African leaders and at the level of ministerial meetings, we find that they are represented in (five priority areas for China and Africa), revolving mainly around: strengthening peace and development in Africa, and pushing forward the China-Africa strategic partnership to new forms for the new era.

  What is remarkable about this in most of the previous ministerial meetings and summits between China and the countries of the African continent, is the great Chinese interest in the development of African human resources, and the great Chinese welcome to receive African delegations, most of whose members are young people to be trained in various fields, and it has (exceeded the total number of Africans who received trainings in China to almost 5,000 students, compared to just dozens of students before the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation).

   If trade is one of the most important indicators of the development and strength of the relationship between the Chinese and African sides, the growth of the volume of trade exchange between the Chinese and African sides is a testament to the great boost witnessed by Chinese-African relations in recent years.

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The role of China’s Health Silk Road to combat Covid-19 in Africa and Egypt

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photo: © UNICEF/Frank Dejongh

China has immediately activated its initiative for “Health Silk Road”, post the outbreak of “Covid-19” as a prominent part of its initiative for “Silk and Road”, and donated the necessary supplies to combat the epidemic in Egypt and more than 50 African countries. Chinese authorities have collaborated with the member states and leaders of the (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) “FOCAC” to recognize the main requirements of the African states. China contributed to the establishment of the (African Center for Disease Control).

    Most African countries have also received many (Chinese aid to confront the new Corona virus disease, which came in the form of governmental or private donations, whether from a number of Chinese provincial and municipal governments, and Chinese organizations and companies), which donated quantities of masks, protective suits, virus detectors and an x-ray examination system, CT scans of the lungs with artificial intelligence, and others. The most important aspects of Chinese cooperation with Egypt and African foreigners to overcome the low growth and lack of supplies resulting from the pressure of the Corona pandemic can be identified, as follows:

 1) China has sent (148 anti-epidemic medical experts to 11 African countries to support African countries in combating the novel coronavirus epidemic), and experts from both sides also held video conferences.

 2) The Chinese government has held intensive meetings and meetings to help the countries of the African continent overcome deficiencies after the spread of the pandemic, the most important of which are (the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-Africa Extraordinary Summit on Solidarity against “Covid-19” in Beijing), in confirmation on China’s role in always seeking to jointly build a “future for a common future for humanity”, as it has continued to assist African countries by sending expert teams, and by providing and facilitating the purchase of necessary medical supplies.

 3) In addition, (more than 40 Chinese medical teams traveled to help Africa with active work in a number of local regions and regions, where Chinese experts carried out nearly 400 training activities to acquire various skills to cope with the pandemic conditions), and to exchange experiences in combating the epidemic with the African side, and Chinese experts have trained more than 20,000 local employees, according to official statements issued by both sides.

 4) Chinese President “Xi Jinping” stressed that China (provided vaccines for about 40 African countries, including Egypt), also called on the major countries to fulfill their obligations to help the countries of the African continent with (President Xi’s invitation to the leaders of the Group of Twenty major economic countries in  Participation in providing vaccines to the African continent and reducing the burden of the pandemic), especially since some developed countries have secured vaccines for up to 80% of their population.

 5) Chinese President (Xi Jinping’s initiative of reducing the debt burden of poor African countries after “Covid-19”) came through President Xi’s announcement that (China has fully implemented the G-20 initiative to suspend debt service to help the poorest countries in  response to the pandemic conditions), in addition to (China has reached debt relief agreements with 16 African countries with a total value of more than one and a half billion dollars), and more agreements were signed with many other countries.

 6) Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for (the Chinese side to adopt the Partnership Initiative to Support Africa’s Development Supervised by the United Nations), was announced by Chinese Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” while presiding over a virtual open debate via video of the “UN Security Council” on May 2021, where (China called on the international community to provide more assistance on supplies, medicines, technology and financing to combat the epidemic in developing African countries), especially through various and diversified ways to ensure access to affordable vaccines in Africa, including:

(Non-refundable assistance, preferential procurement, technology transfer, and cooperative production)

 7) What was remarkable here was (China’s call for the international community to provide support to Africa in the areas of epidemic control, post-epidemic reconstruction, trade and investment, debt relief, food security, poverty reduction and alleviation, tackling climate change, as well as industrialization). Beijing also expressed cooperation and coordination with many countries and relevant international organizations, especially Africa’s traditional cooperation partners, to join this initiative, within the framework of (China’s commitment to the principles of African leadership, equality and openness to the continent and its emerging markets, strengthening coordination and cooperation, and commitment to true pluralism).

 8) On the Egyptian side, the Egyptian-Chinese cooperation in the field of health during the period of the Corona pandemic witnessed a great growth and escalation, in a multi-varied way through (China sent three shipments in batches as aid from China to the Egyptian people, with the Egyptian Minister of Health keen to visit China to declare Egyptian solidarity  with it).

 9) The most important forms of cooperation between Egypt and China were represented in (the cooperation and partnership agreement between the Egyptian company “Vaccera” and the Chinese “Sinovac”, which makes Egypt an important regional center for the manufacture of vaccines), and even one of the strong arms for the production of vaccines in the Arab region and the African continent.

 9) China has translated its assistance to Egypt in practice through (the Chinese government sent raw materials to produce nearly 100 million doses by the end of 2021), in addition to the continuation of the partnership between (Sinovac and Vaccera) as a fruit of cooperation in eliminating the “Covid-19” pandemic between the two Chinese and Egyptian sides.

 10) It also came (Chinese approval of the Egyptian request to cooperate in making Egypt a center for the Chinese vaccine industry), and China’s assistance to the Egyptian government in the field of (localizing Corona vaccine technology in Cairo and making it a center for exporting the vaccine to African markets and neighboring countries), especially with regard to the production of raw materials.  .

 11) The most prominent here is what was announced by the Chinese Ambassador in Cairo, Mr.ambassador, Li Qiang, through a press conference (that all Chinese projects continue to operate in Egypt during the pandemic period to ensure the continuation of Egypt’s economic growth), which led to the expansion of Chinese companies’ investments in Egypt, and his announcement of rising the volume of the direct Chinese business investments increased to 34.6% during the “Covid-19” pandemic period, to reach about $72 million.

 12) The work of Chinese companies in Egypt also continued during the Corona virus period, which completed the completion of the main structure of four buildings in (the new administrative capital in Cairo), including the highest skyscraper in Africa, and it is expected that four new buildings will be built with Chinese expertise.

 13) The confirmation of the Chinese Ambassador in Cairo, Li Qiang, came about (the Chinese-Egyptian cooperation zone “TEDA” in Ain Sukhna achieved sales worth more than 2.3 billion dollars by the end of September 2020, while it paid taxes to the Egyptian government that amounted to 170 million dollars, in addition to providing many job opportunities for the Egyptian youth during the pandemic period), where about 96 Chinese institutions and companies work, which have achieved investments worth one and a half billion pounds.

    Hence, we understand China’s keenness to enhance African-Chinese solidarity and consensus in combating the spread of the Corona pandemic, and to give a new impetus to cooperation between the two sides in light of the current developments, and the most important is Sino-African solidarity and cooperation, with (China’s keenness to transfer its experiences to build the capacities of African countries most in need  to help it overcome the pandemic crisis with the China’s invitation to African leaders to hold extraordinary summits and give priority to protecting the medical sector in the African continent through (a sufficient funding mechanism to ensure the availability of necessary medical and preventive supplies, as well as Chinese assistance in building and equipping African hospitals), especially in light of the limited available resources.

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China and Africa Move into New Era of Cooperation

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Despite its large population of 1.5 billion which many have considered as an impediment, China’s domestic economic reforms and collaborative strategic diplomacy with external countries have made it attain superpower status over the United States. While United States’ influence is rapidly fading away, China has indeed taken up both the challenges and unique opportunities to strengthen its global position, especially its trade, investment and economic muscles. Undoubtedly, China has attained its superpower status by working consistently on practical multifaceted sustainable development and simultaneously maintaining appreciably positive relations with countries around the world.

China is visible with its economic footprints in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Shared past experiences and similar aims and goals have brought China and Africa close together. China and Africa will always be a community of shared future. Developing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, as well as a firm and longstanding strategy.

Entering the new era, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the principles of China’s Africa policy – sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, charting the course for China’s cooperation with Africa, and providing the fundamental guidelines. President Xi Jinping and African leaders unanimously decided at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit that the two sides would work to build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, advance cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, establishing a new milestone in China-Africa relations.

Over the years, China has worked and always desirous to show real and tangible results from its undertakings in Africa. It is a champion of win-win cooperation and works to put the principle into action. China is committed to integrating its own development closely with Africa’s development, and the Chinese people’s interests with those of African peoples. By so doing, China sincerely hopes that African countries will grow stronger and that African life will get better. While pursuing its own development, China has extended support and assistance to its African friends to the limits of its capacity.

Particularly in recent years, China has scaled up its assistance and cooperation with Africa. Whenever it makes a commitment, China will always try to deliver promptly. It will continue to expand cooperation in investment and financing with Africa and strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in agricultural and manufacturing sectors. By so doing, China will help African countries translate their strengths in resources into advantages in development and realize independent and sustainable development.

China’s approach involves upholding four principles:

– Upholding sincerity, friendship and equality. The Chinese people have worked together with African people in pursuit of a shared future. China respects, appreciates and supports Africa.

– Upholding shared interests and the greater good, with greater emphasis on the latter. In its cooperation with Africa, China applies the principles of giving more and taking less, giving before taking, and giving without asking for something in return. It welcomes African countries aboard the express train of China’s development with open arms.

– Upholding a people-oriented approach in pursuing practical cooperation with efficiency. In its cooperation with Africa, China gives top priority to the interests and wellbeing of the peoples of China and Africa, and works to their benefit. China is committed to fully honoring the promises it has made to its African friends.

– Upholding openness and inclusiveness. China stands ready to work with other international partners to support Africa in pursuing peace and development. It welcomes and supports all initiatives that further Africa’s interests.

In developing relations with Africa, there are five lines that China will not cross: no interference in African countries’ choice of a development path that fits their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of its will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no pursuit of selfish political gains through investment and financing cooperation with Africa.

Building Political Trust

At Beijing Summit in 2018, China and Africa the FOCAC reached a strategic agreement to build a China-Africa community of shared future characterized by joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, cultural prosperity, common security, and harmony between humanity and nature.

China sees Africa as a broad stage for international cooperation rather than an arena for competition among major countries. China-Africa cooperation has never been a case of talk and no action. It is a case of bringing tangible benefits to people in China and Africa, and creating more favorable conditions for others in the international community to conduct cooperation with Africa.

In 2006, the FOCAC Beijing Summit decided to establish a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. In 2015, the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit decided to build a China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. In the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, the two sides agreed to build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future, raising China-Africa relations to a new level.

High-level exchanges play an important role in developing China-Africa relations. State leaders of the two sides value communication and coordination on bilateral relations. In March 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Africa, his first official overseas visit after assuming the office of president. To date he has made four visits to different locations across the continent.

During the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, President Xi had one-on-one meetings with more than 50 African leaders, renewing friendships, exploring cooperation, and discussing the future. He also attended close to 70 bilateral and multilateral events.

After the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2018, 17 African leaders came to China for state visits or meetings. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, state leaders of the two sides have maintained contacts and communication via video and phone calls. In June 2020, President Xi Jinping presided over the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19 via video link. Thirteen African leaders and chairperson of the AU Commission attended the summit.

China-Africa cooperation at the local level is flourishing. The two sides have held four cooperation forums between local governments since 2012. There are currently 160 pairings of sister provinces/cities between China and African countries, 48 of which have been established since 2013. China and African countries conduct close exchanges between political parties, legislative bodies and consultative bodies, building multi-level, multi-channel, multi-form and multi-dimensional friendly cooperation.

China, African Union and Regional Organizations

China has been active in developing cooperation with the AU and African sub-regional organizations. The AU Conference Center, which was built with Chinese assistance, was inaugurated in January 2012. It was the second-largest project in Africa to be built with China’s assistance after the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. In 2014, China sent a mission to the AU, marking a new stage of China-AU relations. China values the AU’s leading role in advancing African integration and building a stronger African continent through unity, and supports its dominant role in safeguarding peace and security in Africa. China also supports the AU in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs, adopting Agenda 2063, and executing the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan.

In a capacity of observer, China has attended the summit of many African sub-regional organizations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Economic Community of Central African States. China has sent ambassadors to the ECOWAS, SADC and EAC.

China’s Economic Achievements

China and Africa have seen economic and trade cooperation expanding rapidly in scale and extent. The 10 major cooperation plans and the eight major initiatives adopted at the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit raised China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level.

– Increasing development assistance. While pursuing its own growth, China supports African countries in seeking development and improving their people’s lives. In the new era, China has scaled up assistance to Africa. Foreign aid from 2013 to 2018 totaled RMB270 billion. Of this sum, 45 percent went to African countries in the form of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans.

From 2000 to 2020, China helped African countries build more than 13,000 km of roads and railway and more than 80 large-scale power facilities, and funded over 130 medical facilities, 45 sports venues and over 170 schools. It also trained more than 160,000 personnel for Africa, and built a series of flagship projects including the AU Conference Center.

China’s assistance extended to various aspects of the economy, society and people’s lives, and was widely welcomed and supported by governments in Africa and the people. China has announced an exemption from debt incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese government loans due to mature by the end of 2018. It will apply to Africa’s least developed countries, heavily indebted and poor countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries that have diplomatic relations with China. During the Covid-19 pandemic, China cancelled the outstanding debts of 15 African countries in the form of interest-free loans that matured at the end of 2020

– Booming trade relations. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for the 12 years since 2009. The proportion of Africa’s trade with China in the continent’s total external trade has continued to rise. In 2020, the figure exceeded 21 percent. The structure of China-Africa trade is improving. There has been a marked increase in technology in China’s exports to Africa, with the export of mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products now accounting for more than 50 percent of the total.

China has increased its imports of non-resource products from Africa, and offered zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of taxable items exported to China by the 33 least-developed countries in Africa, with the goal of helping more African agricultural and manufactured goods gain access to the Chinese market. China’s imports in services from Africa have been growing at an average annual rate of 20 percent since 2017, creating close to 400,000 jobs for the continent every year.

In recent years, China’s imports of agricultural products from Africa have also risen, and China has emerged as the second largest destination for Africa’s agricultural exports. China and Africa have seen booming trade in new business models including cross-border e-commerce. Cooperation under the Silk Road E-commerce initiative has advanced. China has built a mechanism for e-commerce cooperation with Rwanda, and Chinese businesses have been active in investing in overseas order fulfillment centers. High-quality and special products from Africa are now directly available to the Chinese market via e-commerce platforms. The China-Mauritius free trade agreement (FTA), which became effective on January 1 2021, was the first FTA between China and an African country. It has injected new vitality into China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

– Promoting cooperation in investment and financing. Cooperation in investment and financing has been one of the success stories of China-Africa cooperation in recent years, bringing new vitality into Africa’s economic and social development. Combining Africa’s needs and China’s strengths, China encourages its companies to increase and optimize investment in Africa, providing support in financing and export credit insurance for eligible projects. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Chinese government, financial institutions, and enterprises, China’s investment in Africa has built up sound momentum. It covers a wide range of fields including mining, processing and smelting of ores, equipment manufacturing, agriculture, home appliance production, aviation services, medicine and health, and the digital economy. With this help, African countries have been able to upgrade their industrialization, improve their industries, and increase their capacity to earn foreign exchange through exports.

By the end of 2020, direct investment of Chinese companies in Africa had surpassed $43 billion. China has established over 3,500 companies of various types across the continent. Private companies have gradually become the main investment force in Africa; more than 80 percent of their employees are locals, and they have directly and indirectly created millions of jobs.

– Facilitating agricultural development in Africa. China has always been willing to share agricultural development experience and technology with Africa, to support African countries in improving agricultural production and processing, and to help them in building their agricultural value chains and trade. Since 2012, 7,456 African trainees have received agricultural training in China. Through projects such as sending Chinese agricultural experts to Africa, more than 50,000 Africans have been trained and 23 agricultural demonstration centers have been built. To date, China has established agricultural cooperation mechanisms with 23 African countries and regional organizations, and signed 72 bilateral and multilateral agricultural cooperation agreements.

Since 2012, China has signed 31 agricultural cooperation agreements with 20 African countries and regional organizations. In 2019, the First China-Africa Agriculture Cooperation Forum was held, which announced the establishment of the China-AU Agriculture Cooperation Commission and the formulation of a program of action to promote China-Africa cooperation in agricultural modernization. By the end of 2020, more than 200 Chinese companies had an investment stock of $1.11 billion in agricultural sector in 35 African countries. Their investments cover areas such as planting, breeding and processing. More than 350 types of African agricultural products can be traded with China. All this ensures steady growth in China-Africa agricultural trade.

– Contributing to industrialization in Africa. Industrialization is a prerequisite for the continent to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, and is also the key to creating jobs, eradicating poverty, and improving living standards. China supports African countries in improving their “soft” and “hard” environment for investment in accordance with their national conditions and development needs. Taking industrial alignment and capacity cooperation as the engine, China helps advance the process of Africa’s industrialization and economic diversification. To date, China has established industrial capacity cooperation mechanisms with 15 countries in Africa.

China and African countries have worked together to build economic and trade cooperation zones, special economic zones, industrial parks and science parks, attracting enterprises from China and other countries to invest in Africa. They have built production and processing bases and localized their operations in Africa, contributing to an increase in local employment and tax revenues, and promoting industrial upgrading and technical cooperation. The China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation has focused on the construction of highways, railways, and aviation networks, and industrialization in Africa.

As of March 2021, investments had been made in 21 projects, covering energy, resources and manufacturing and boosting industrial development in recipient countries. Dozens of Chinese-funded enterprises have cooperated with African counterparts to build photovoltaic power stations, with a cumulative installed capacity exceeding 1.5 GW, which has helped create photovoltaic industry chains from scratch in Africa, while effectively alleviating power shortages and reducing carbon emissions.

– Expanding cooperation in infrastructure. China supports Africa in making infrastructure development a priority for economic revitalization. It encourages and supports Chinese enterprises to adopt various models to participate in the construction, investment, operation and management of infrastructure projects in Africa. From 2016 to 2020, total investment in infrastructure projects in Africa reached almost $200 billion. Projects implemented by Chinese companies accounted for 31.4 percent of all infrastructure projects on the African continent in 2020. Since the founding of FOCAC, Chinese companies have utilized various funds to help African countries build and upgrade more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, and 66,000 km of power transmission and distribution. They have also helped build an installed power-generating capacity of 120 million kW, a communications backbone network of 150,000 km and a network service covering nearly 700 million user terminals. Built and operated by Chinese companies, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway was the first modern railway to be built in Kenya in 100 years.

Applying Chinese standards, technologies and equipment, the project has won praise as a road of friendship and cooperation, and a path towards win-win development between China and Africa in the new era. The railway has carried 5.4 million passengers and 1.3 million standard containers. It has contributed 1.5 percent to Kenya’s economic growth, and created 46,000 direct and indirect jobs. China has guided its enterprises to explore multiple forms of cooperation, such as BOT (build-operate-transfer), BOO (build-own-operate) and PPP (public-private partnership). Such efforts aim to transform China-Africa infrastructure cooperation to a wholly integrated model covering investment, construction and operation, and push forward the sustainable development of infrastructure projects.

– Strengthening financial cooperation. Financial institutions from both sides have been exploring each other’s markets. Their central banks have expanded the scale of local currency settlement and currency swap, leading to a steady improvement in China-Africa financial facilitation. As of October 2021, the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) had 42 indirect participants in Africa, covering 19 African countries. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, has signed successive currency swap agreements with the central banks of South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria, to a total amount of RMB73 billion.

China has signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in financial supervision with seven African countries including Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria, laying a solid foundation for steady and long-term bilateral financial cooperation. China has joined the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, the West African Development Bank and other multilateral development financial institutions. It has pledged to contribute a total of $996 million to the African Development Fund under the AfDB.

– Expanding cooperation in the digital economy. China is helping African countries to eliminate the digital divide. Rapid development and fruitful results have been achieved in this field – building digital infrastructure, transition towards a digital society, and the application of new technologies such as the Internet of Things and mobile finance. Chinese companies have participated in a number of submarine cable projects connecting Africa and Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

They have cooperated with major African operators in achieving full basic coverage of telecommunications services in Africa. They have built more than half of the continent’s wireless sites and high-speed mobile broadband networks. In total, more than 200,000 km of optical fiber has been laid, giving broadband Internet access to 6 million households, and serving more than 900 million local people. To date, more than 1,500 companies in 17 cities in 15 African countries have selected Chinese corporate partners on their digital transformation path. Twenty-nine countries have selected smart government service solutions provided by Chinese companies. China and Africa have jointly established a public cloud service in South Africa that covers the entire African region. The two sides also released the first 5G independent networking commercial network in the region. The level and content of China-Africa e-commerce cooperation continue to grow. The Silk Road E-Commerce Capacity Building Cloud Lectures have effectively improved the digital literacy of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in partner countries. Promotion activities have been held to help high-quality products from Africa to access the Chinese market.

Such activities include a government-initiated shopping festival that began in 2019, featuring Silk Road e-commerce, as well as the FOCAC African Products Online Promoting Season. Chinese companies actively participate in building platforms of public services in Africa such as electronic payment and smart logistics. All these efforts are designed to achieve win-win cooperation through promoting connectivity. At the China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum in August 2021, China announced its intention to formulate and implement a joint China-Africa Partnership Plan on Digital Innovation in Africa.

Social Dimensions

China is promoting cooperation with Africa in social fields such as poverty reduction, health, education, science and technology, environmental protection, climate change and exchanges among young people and women. Through strengthening exchanges, providing assistance and sharing experience, China is helping African countries to improve their comprehensive social development, which then provides internal impetus for their economic growth.

– Sharing experience in poverty reduction. Poverty is a common challenge facing China and Africa. Ending poverty is the primary goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since 2010, 10 Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development conferences have been held in countries such as China, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda, with nearly 1,600 participants in total. From 2005 to 2021, China organized 160 poverty reduction and foreign aid training programs. Some 2,700 people from 53 African countries participated in the training, accounting for almost 60 percent of the total number of trainees.

– Enhancing medical and health cooperation. Through concrete actions, China has helped African countries respond to various epidemics and plagues and build a public health system, promoting a China-Africa community of health. One of the longest and most effective cooperation projects that involves the greatest number of African countries is the dispatch of Chinese medical teams. At present, there are nearly 1,000 Chinese medical workers in 45 African countries, working at 98 medical centers.

Chinese medical teams carried out 34 free clinical programs under the Brightness Action initiative, restoring the eyesight of almost 10,000 African cataract patients. China focuses on helping African countries strengthen medical specialties, training 20,000 African medical personnel. To date, it has helped 18 African countries establish 20 centers in different medical specialties, covering cardiology, critical care medicine, trauma and endoscopy. China supports African countries in improving their capacity in border health and quarantine inspection, and sends disease control experts to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention to provide technical support.

– Expanding cooperation in education and human resources. China vigorously supports education in Africa. Based on the needs of African countries for economic and social development, it helps train much-needed professionals for African countries and encourages outstanding African youth to study in China through several scholarships. Starting from 2012, the two sides have implemented the 20+20 Cooperation Plan for Chinese and African Institutions of Higher Education as an exchange and cooperation platform among universities. China set up an educational trust fund under UNESCO to provide teacher training for more than 10,000 teachers in African countries. Since 2018, China has established Luban Workshops together with colleges and universities in countries including Egypt, South Africa, Djibouti and Kenya, sharing quality vocational education resources with Africa and training high-caliber technical personnel to meet the urgent needs of economic and social development on the continent.

China has helped more than 30 African universities set up Chinese language departments or Chinese language majors. In cooperation with China, 16 African countries have incorporated the Chinese language into their national education systems. The two sides have established 61 Confucius Institutes and 48 Confucius Classrooms in Africa. Since 2004, China has sent a total of 5,500 Chinese language teachers and volunteers to 48 African nations.

– Stepping up scientific and technological collaboration, and knowledge sharing. China actively strengthens communication and coordination with Africa in terms of technological innovation strategies. It shares experience and achievements, and promotes the exchange and training of professionals and technology transfer, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship on both sides. China and African countries have set up high-level joint laboratories, the China-Africa Joint Research Center, and an innovation cooperation center.

In recent years, China has assisted Africa in cultivating a large number of scientific and technological talents through projects such as the Alliance of International Science Organizations in the Belt and Road Region Scholarship, Chinese government scholarships, the Talented Young Scientist Program, and the Innovative Talent Exchange Project.

Moving Towards the Future

Over the past two decades, FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue between China and Africa and an effective mechanism for pragmatic cooperation. It has turned into a pacesetter for international cooperation with Africa in the new era. It now has 55 members comprising China, the 53 African countries that have diplomatic relations with China, and the AU Commission. The Ministerial Conference is held once every three years, rotating between China and African countries and co-chaired by China and an African hosting country, with the co-chairs also taking the lead in implementing conference outcomes.

Based on mutual agreements, some of the ministerial conferences have been upgraded into summits. To date three summits (the Beijing Summit in November 2006, the Johannesburg Summit in December 2015, and the Beijing Summit in September 2018) and seven ministerial conferences have been convened. These have yielded rich fruits, releasing a series of important documents to guide cooperation, and promoting the implementation of a series of major measures to facilitate development in Africa and solidify China-Africa friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Africa is experiencing a flowing tide of solidarity and self-strengthening, and the continent’s influence in international affairs continues to grow. It is now forging ahead with the development of free trade zones, accelerating industrialization and modernization, and heading towards the bright future envisioned in the AU’s Agenda 2063.

At the end of November 2021, FOCAC will meet in African co-chair country Senegal. The meeting will evaluate the implementation of the outcomes of the 2018 Beijing Summit, and make plans for friendly cooperation in the next phase. This will be an important diplomatic event for China and Africa to discuss cooperation plans and promote common development, and will be of great importance in promoting post-pandemic economic recovery and development in Africa, China and the world at large. China will work closely with Africa to align China’s Second Centenary Goal of building a great modern socialist country by the middle of the century with the AU’s Agenda 2063.

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