•The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is due for a midterm review this year, the delivery of most Sustainable Development Goals remains slow.
•A Chinese adage reads, “Victory is ensured when people pool their strength; success is secured when people put their heads together.”
That Chinese President Xi Jinping is a friend of the African continent is not in doubt. In the last several decades, ties between China and the continent have been tightening on many social and economic fronts. During the recently ended BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, Xi took the opportunity to affirm these ties on September 24 in his remarks at the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue.
Xi noted that development embodies the people’s aspiration for a better life. It is the top priority for developing countries and a timeless theme for humanity. As the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is due for a midterm review this year, the delivery of most Sustainable Development Goals remains slow. He said this is a cause for concern, and the global development endeavour faces formidable challenges.
The international community must pursue the larger interests of all countries, respond to people’s concerns, and restore development to the centre of the international agenda. The representation and voice of developing countries in global governance should be increased, and developing countries be supported in realising better development. It is also important to uphold true multilateralism, forge a global development partnership, and create a secure and stable international environment for shared development.
China has invariably stood in solidarity with fellow developing countries through thick and thin. It has been, and will always remain a member of developing countries. Xi proposed the Global Development Initiative (GDI), precisely for the purpose of calling on the world to stay focused on development and lending impetus to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Last year, China held the first High-Level Dialogue on Global Development where a host of measures for development cooperation were unveiled. Encouraging progress has been made since then. It has put development first and allocated more resources. China has set up a Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund with a total funding of US$4 billion, and Chinese financial institutions will soon set up a special fund of US$ 10 billion dedicated to the implementation of the Global Development Initiative (GDI).
As of September 2022, more than 100 countries and international organizations had expressed support for the initiative and more than 60 countries had joined the Friends of GDI at the United Nations. The GDI seeks a world of shared synergies and mutuality, aspects which are currently lacking in the current geopolitics.
The GDI seeks to take action in six areas to promote global development: support the development priority agenda, optimise the cultivation of development projects, break the bottleneck of development financing, expand development cooperation methods, strengthen tripartite development cooperation, and support the youth to lead in development initiatives. Under the GDI, China has prioritised green development, new-type industrialisation, the digital economy and some other key areas, and pursued a Partnership on New Industrial Revolution to boost high-quality development.
China has taken results-oriented actions and deepened practical cooperation. From Asia to Africa, from Pacific island countries to the Caribbean, over 200 cooperation projects have come to fruition, and cooperation mechanisms are growing in areas such as poverty reduction, education and health. The country has unleashed the power of innovation and built up momentum for development.
China and Africa have tided over difficulties together and made development more resilient. Food and energy security bear on the economy of a country and the well-being of its people. The two partners have launched a China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund, implemented the Food Production Enhancement Action, and provided food assistance to and shared agrotech with many countries. They have also initiated a Global Clean Energy Cooperation Partnership with a view to achieving energy security.
Xi reiterated that China is a friend that Africa can count on. Over the past decade, China has provided a large amount of development assistance to Africa and helped build more than 6,000 kilometres of railway, over 6,000 kilometres of highway, and 80-plus large power facilities on the continent. Going forward, China will carry out more cooperation with African countries to support Africa in enhancing its own capacity for development.
Specific measures will be taken such as providing satellite mapping data products, implementing a Smart Customs cooperation partnership, and launching in collaboration with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, a “GDI for Africa’s Future” action plan to support sustainable development in Africa.
A Chinese adage reads, “Victory is ensured when people pool their strength; success is secured when people put their heads together.” China and Africa should stay committed and united to build a community of shared development, and make sure that in the process of global modernisation, no country is left behind.
Stephen Ndegwa is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi-based communications development think tank.