•The eighth ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar, Senegal was a meeting of like-minded leaders.
•In his speech during the Dakar event, President Xi made four proposals to further entrench the partnership.
That the relationship between China and Africa has grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades is not in contention.
From increasing bilateral relations, the partnership has now coalesced into a multilateral platform where the partners now discuss overarching issues in order to come into a common understanding.
The recent conclusion of the eighth ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar, Senegal once again proved the unbreakable bond between the two, and huge potential that is still untapped in the win-win partnership.
It was a meeting of like-minded leaders as the two sides worked towards consensus in their spheres of cooperation borne out of their common experiences in the struggle against imperialism and colonialism.
The year 2022 marks the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. Over the decades, the two partners have worked together towards development and revitalisation. Indeed, the two have brought a new paradigm shift in international relations as they forged ahead amid big challenges.
Both partners have risen to the occasion to help each other as the need arises. For instance, Africa was instrumental in the restoration of China back in the United Nations 50 years ago.
Fast forward to 2020, China helped Africa prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic through knowledge sharing and donations of drugs and medical supplies.
At the 2018 Focac Beijing Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed eight major initiatives which were unanimously agreed on by his African counterparts. Since then, the two sides have cooperated in various fields including industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, and green development.
In his speech during the Dakar event, President Xi made four proposals to further entrench the partnership. First is fighting Covid-19 with solidarity where the two put people and their lives first guided by science, support waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, and truly ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa to bridge the immunisation gap.
Second is deepening practical cooperation by opening up new prospects for cooperation, expand trade and investment, share experience on poverty reduction, strengthen cooperation on digital economy, and promote entrepreneurship by young Africans and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Third is promoting green development. In the face of the global climate change threat, Xi proposed that the duo advocate green and low-carbon development, actively promote solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy, work for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and keep strengthening capacity for sustainable development.
Fourthly, Xi proposed upholding equity and justice through true multilateralism. He noted that peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom are common values of humanity and represent the abiding aspirations of both China and Africa.
He noted that the two sides advocate a development path suited to their national conditions and are both committed to upholding the rights and interests of developing countries.
The two partners are now looking to the future with great confidence. In the run-up to FOCAC, the two sides jointly prepared the “China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035”. Under the first three-year plan, China will work closely with African countries to implement the following nine programs:
First is the medical and health programme. To help the African Union achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, Xi announced that China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses. Further, China will undertake 10 medical and health projects for African countries, and send 1,500 medical personnel and public health experts to Africa.
Two, China will undertake ten poverty reduction and agricultural projects for Africa, and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa.
CHINA-AFRICA COOPERATION VISION 2035
•Medical cooperation: China will provide another one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.
•Poverty reduction: China to undertake ten poverty reduction and agricultural projects for Africa, and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa.
•Trade promotion. China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China.
•Investment promotion. China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than US$10 billion in Africa in the next three years
Third is the trade promotion program where China will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, speed up the inspection and quarantine procedures, and further increase the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment for the least developed countries having diplomatic relations with China. The target is to reach 300 billion US dollars in total imports from Africa in the next three years.
Fourth, the investment promotion programme. China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than US$10 billion in Africa in the next three years, and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion.
Fifth is the digital innovation programme where China will undertake ten digital economy projects for Africa, set up centres for China-Africa cooperation on satellite remote-sensing application, and support the development of China-Africa joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases.
In the sixth, the green development programme, China will undertake 10 green development, environmental protection and climate action projects for Africa, support the development of the “Great Green Wall”, and build in Africa centers of excellence on low-carbon development and climate change adaptation.
Seventh is the capacity building programme where China will help build or upgrade ten schools in Africa, and invite 10,000 high-level African professionals to seminars and workshops.
Eighth is the cultural and people-to-people exchange programme where China will support making of all African countries with diplomatic ties as approved destinations for Chinese tourist destinations.
In the ninth, peace and security programme, China will undertake ten peace and security projects for Africa. The country will continue to deliver military assistance to the AU, support African countries’ efforts to independently maintain regional security and fight terrorism, and conduct joint exercises and on-site training between Chinese and African peacekeeping troops and cooperation on small arms and light weapons control.
The two partners with a total population of 2.7 billion people are definitely going to be a force to reckon with in the new era of a shared destiny among mankind.
The writer is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi based research and development communication think tank.