CAPE TOWN, Sept. 9 — The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) offers significant potentials for a development paradigm for China-Africa cooperation, South African experts said.
Speaking from the perspectives of both business and academic research, the analysts interviewed by Xinhua noted that the FOCAC Summit presented the “the possibility, if consciously involving the masses of Africans, of most far-reaching opportunity to break with past practice.”
Professor Jay Jay Williams from the University of the Western Cape School of Government said what Africa needs is real development that “directly and sustainably impacts the lives of the people on the ground”, just as indicated by Chinese President Xi Jinping in his key-note speech at the forum held on Sept. 3-4.
Having worked in many development initiatives throughout the continent, Williams believes that the resources and goodwill of the Chinese people should be properly utilized and not abused by African officials who are not fully committed during implementation.
Williams stressed the need for grassroots-driven and bottom-up planning programs in implementing the eight initiatives proposed by the Chinese president.
One indicator that many of the considerations raised by those at the coalface of African economic development is the question of ensuring the development through the highly skilled and professionally trained workforce and competent officials who will be responsible for project management and implementation.
Williams stated that the strong commitment of the Chinese government should “present a strong opportunity for people at grassroots to really benefit, for their conditions to be changed.”
“What we have to look for is the substance of how implementation occurs, particularly who directly will benefit,” he said.
His reaction flows from an assessment of the far-reaching initiatives, reaching across the spectrum which the Chinese leader stated will be focused on industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, professional skills transfer, training and green development, among others.
As part of these initiatives, China will carry out 50 agricultural assistance programs and provide emergency humanitarian food aid amounting to 1 billion yuan (147 million U.S. dollars) to African countries affected by natural disasters and that this will be complemented by 500 senior agricultural experts who will be sent to Africa.
The sheer depth of the commitment to partnership and solidarity with Africa’s development calls for the instrument to break the logjam that has held the continent developmentally hostage, Williams said.
“What emerges from FOCAC is a clear and unambiguous declaration from China that it sees its very future as intertwined with that of Africa and that it is prepared to utilize both its vast reservoir of technological expertise and its standing as the second most powerful economy in the world to facilitate growth and development in Africa,” stated author and development analyst Ruben Richards.
“This act of practical solidarity and partnership, without the conditions or interference in the development trajectory agendas of countries on the continent and China’s position, opens the path to breaking the stranglehold of economic relations, which has severely compromised Africa’s engagements with the developed world in the past,” Richards said.
“We are all very cognizant of our history, where unjust relations were the order of the day, effectively holding back our peoples’ advancement, so what clearly is different with the messages coming out of the FOCAC Summit is that China wants to break with that past,” he added.
Dr. Phillip Dexter, Chief Oerating Officer of Nehawu Investment Holdings, said that in the last 20 years China has increasingly invested in and assisted African countries in development.
The eight initiatives announced by president Xi will intensify this commitment and assist to promote growth and development in a partnership between Africa and China, Dexter said.
This FOCAC has seen the most representative participation by African countries and demonstrates the strength of the partnership between Africa and China, he said.
It is up to African countries to take advantage of the initiatives announced by the Chinese president, said Dexter.
He further evaluated the summit by saying that Africa has committed to a common market and the Chinese-proposed eight initiatives will add momentum to that.
In a world where some developed economies are becoming isolationist and protectionist, there are great opportunities to build a South-South cooperation, Dexter said, adding that “the future looks very bright for us.”
Dexter said China has observed the “five No’s” in the past, namely no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in their internal affairs; no imposition of China’s will on them; no attachment of political strings to aid; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation.
The “five No’s” have been a feature of China’s policies for some time, Dexter said, adding “it is only unfortunate that other global powers do not practice such.