China’s engagement with Africa is the most momentous phenomenon over the last decade.
Two-way economic relations have improved exponentially. This has not only been attributed to China’s remarkable development but also to Africa’s fast economic growth.
Many Africans view China’s engagement in Africa as an opportunity to finally rise up and be counted among great nations. China and Africa need each other to realise common development, to maintain peace and stability, and speak for developing countries in the international arena.
On the political arena, China has proven to be a reliable ally to Africa. Since regaining its legitimate seat at the UN, it has stood with African countries by safeguarding their interests at the Security Council.
China has consistently called for larger representation of developing countries within the UN Security council,in line with the UN reforms. This has tipped the balance of international forces in favour of equality and respect among nations.
Economically, China has contributed significantly to the economic growth of African nations. A decade of engagement has helped Africa to develop and grow African economies by 20 per cent.
Trade between China and Africa soared from $10 billion n 2000 to $200 billion in 2012.
China’s accumulative investment in Africa reached $20 billion by the end of 2012.
In his first foreign trip as President, Xi Jinping reconfirmed China’s commitment to provide $20 billion in financing. Most of these funds go to infrastructure projects and people’s livelihoods, which are the firm foundations for Africa’s industrialisation and economic development.
Kenyan former Finance minister Robinson Githae said infrastructure cooperation had not only helped bring Africa’s goods to China, but also transferred China’s technology to Africa and created more jobs for Africans.
“China continues to do its best to increase assistance to Africa, optimise the structure of assistance, and focus on assistance projects in education, agriculture, health, poverty reduction and other projects concerning people’s lives as well as energy conservation and environmental protection,” he said.
The number of technicians, volunteers, agricultural experts who have come to support African workers has reached 350,000 from 1960s to 2012. And 18,700 medical doctors have voluntarily served in 48 African countries.
Furthermore, China is already increasing its investments in the manufacturing sector with the aim of promoting industrialisation and production in Africa by Africans.
Several industrial zones are already underway and many others planned in various African countries. These not only offer jobs, but also facilitate the transfer of technology and value addition.
Out of the 2,000 Chinese companies in Africa, 85 percent of their workforce is comprised of local employees and with continuous training in highly technical areas, the numbers keep rising. By the end of 2012, it is estimated that China had facilitated the training of over 40,000 African professionals in various sectors.
Economist Dambisa Moyo explains that “with approximately 60 per cent of Africa’s population under 24, foreign investment and jobs are the only forces that can reduce poverty and stave off the sort of political upheaval that has swept the Arab world.”
China plays a crucial role in Africa’s development. Despite its imperfections, its role in Africa is broadly welcomed as it prioritises the provision of basic needs in Africa.
Mr Wu is the spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya