Par Godlove BAINKONG, Cameroon Tribune
Development experts from China and Africa have begun reflecting on how to transform the new cooperation framework agreed between the two parties last year during the Johannesburg Summit into concrete growth on the ground. They met in Yiwu City of China on April14-16, 2016 within the framework of the 5th meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum. The forum is an initiative launched by China’s Zhejiang Normal University in 2011 to create a platform for face-to-face dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and African think tanks.
The just-ended Yiwu forum focused on how the two parties could cooperate to enhance industrialization which stands tall alongside agricultural modernization in the new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development. Chinese President, Xi Jinping pledged during the South African summit last year that his country will actively promote industry partnering and production capacity cooperation between China and Africa. As per the China-Africa industrialization plan, the former among others promised to build or upgrade industrial parks in cooperation with Africa as well as train 200,000 technical personnel and provide 40,000 training opportunities for African personnel in China.
Speakers during the forum said trade between Africa and China has grown 60 times over the past 15 years and that there is an urgent need to modernize and industrialise production especially of agriculture wherein the continent has huge potentials. All agreed that China and Africa are a community of shared destiny and so need new ideas and opportunities to forge ahead. Experts noted this can only be achieved in sincerity, equality and friendship.
According to Lin Songtian, Director General, Department of African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Africa’s problems are three-fold – infrastructure development, trained human resources and funding. That China funds and often participates in executing infrastructure projects in Africa, through various concessional loans, as well as partner in upgrading the skills of Africa’s human resources, he said, is telling of the sincerity of the cooperation. Mr Lin Songtian however underlined that the frequent change of government with constant change of systems frustrates continuity in the continent’s developments. Against a backdrop of growing criticism that China’s ready loans to Africa could plunge the continent into serious indebtedness; the Director General said his country is flexible to improving the preferential loans. He like others prayed the continent to use China’s development blueprint which has worked so well as a guide - not copying and pasting anyway, but adapting it to each country’s realities and desires so as to accelerate growth. The over 300 participants at term prayed African countries to put in place well-adapted implementation and control mechanisms of her usually lofty development plans.
Among the many papers presented was one by Cameroon’s Prof. Stephane Ngwanza, Deputy Director, International Relations Institute of Cameroon on, “African industrialization and the potential of Chinese support: The case of special economic zones in African countries.”