China-Africa cooperation has come of age, but new deals are bringing assurance that time has come for the continent which has been lagging behind for centuries to become a shining star.
Several areas of multi-lateral and bilateral cooperation brought together China and African countries and they resulted in establishment of vital infrastructure for several decades now.
However, the central turning point in China-Africa cooperation could be traced back in 2000.
In this year, China and the bloc established a forum that would sustain partnership, the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.
Ever since, China partners with Africa in every key development project.
For example, in 2001, China endorsed the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, 2007 Action Plan for Accelerating Industrial Development in Africa, 2013 Africa Infrastructure Development Plan and 2013 Africa 2063 Vision.
A clearer, stronger orientation to the China-Africa forum was given under the Belt and Road “B&R” Initiative which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2013.
B&R consists of an economic network formed by several road networks and belts across Africa.
Under this initiative, China designed several projects for Africa, keeping in mind the principle of win-win partnership.
For example, during his tour in Africa in 2014, Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang launched the “461” framework for China-Africa cooperation.
You don’t understand the deep meaning of “461” framework until you get to know its deep significance. It is the brief explanation of why China is, and will remain successful in its African policy than any other country.
“461” stands for: Four Principles including; equality, pragmatism, sincerity, trustworthiness; Six major projects: industry, finance, poverty reduction, environmental protection, cultural exchanges, peace and safety, all under One platform: China-Africa forum.
In the following year – January 2015, China brought the projects under 461 into concrete terms whereby the country signed with the African Union a memorandum of understanding to layout three key infrastructures on the continent; the three networks and industrialisation.
It consists of construction of a high-speed railway, highway, aviation and industrial infrastructure that spans 48 years across Africa which has its merit of connecting Africa and bringing Chinese equipment to Africa.
In the same year-December 2015, President Xi Jinping gave the China-Africa cooperation a new boost.
He proposed “Five Pillars” of China-Africa Cooperation in 2016-2018.
According to the pillars, China wanted relationship with Africa based on political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and mutual learning, mutual assistance in security, solidarity and cooperation in international affairs.
These pillars would be translated into ten concrete activities ranging from promotion of industry and boosting agriculture modernization and infrastructure on the continent, finance, green economy to mention but a few.
Cooperation is Result Oriented
Dividends of China-Africa Cooperation are now available for all to see.
As of the end of 2014, China’s total construction contract in Africa amounts to $ 466,700 billion.
Africa attracted nearly 3000 Chinese enterprises investing in construction, manufacturing, mining to mention but a few. They employed about 400,000 workers from the continent.
South Africa, the largest Chinese trade partner in Africa took the lion share.
In August, a company of BAIC Group in South Africa officially started construction in the Koha Industrial Park, planned to produce 100,000 vehicles a year, with a total investment of $ 800 million.
It is believably the largest Greenfield investment project in South Africa in nearly 40 years.
Not scattered, precarious investment
In the China-Africa cooperation investment is decided very wisely, rather, Chinese companies do not just wake up and decide to bid for construction of a road here and an airport there.
Every move is calculated and currently, China has chosen blocks or specific countries for specific projects in a pilot phase.
East African region with a stable political situation, rapid economic growth and integration, and long-term friendship with China is a preferential “testing area” for China-Africa production cooperation.
Moreover, South Africa, the economic power of the African continent, is chosen to be a key country in the implementation.
Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Congo in the Central, East Africa are chosen to be the first pilot countries for China-Africa capacity cooperation.
Outstanding projects in these countries are already under construction or have been launched.
They include first ring expressway (Addis-Adama Expressway) in Ethiopia, the first modern light rail in East Africa (urban light rail in Addis Ababa) and Addisababa Djibouti Railway, first Chinese Class II electrified railway in Africa.
The African Union headquarters in Addis is also part of this project and so is Mombasa Nairobi Railway which opened in Kenya on June 1.
Economic and Trade Zones also referred to as industrial parks are another Chinese priority.
They are divided into three categories: state-level, provincial and municipal level and enterprise self-building.
Under China-Africa cooperation six economic and trade cooperation zones were established in five African countries.
Most known with high standards are TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Area, Lekki FTZ, Zambia-China Economic & Trade Cooperation Zone and Ethiopian Eastern Industrial Park.
Jin-Africa Economic and Trade Zone in Mauritius and the Ogun Economic and Trade Zone in Nigeria are also stepping up construction and investment, and strive to meet the standards as soon as possible.