The 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) successfully held last November started a new historic point for China-Africa relations.
Chinese and African leaders agreed, at the conference, to synergize Belt and Road cooperation with the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of individual African countries, to build a China-Africa community with a shared future that features mutual benefit and common development.
Since the establishment of FOCAC, Chinese enterprises have built or upgraded for Africa more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges, 100 ports and more than 80 large-scale power facilities. Chinese firms have also helped countries in Africa build more than 130 medical facilities, more than 170 schools, and trained more than 160,000 professionals in various fields for the continent.
Nowadays, the achievements of China-Africa cooperation can be witnessed across Africa and felt in local communities and families. FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa, and a paradigm of international development cooperation and a model for South-South cooperation thanks to 20 years of joint efforts by both sides.
Solidarity and mutual assistance between China and Africa have not only consolidated Africa’s independent political status, but also enhanced Africa’s sustainable development capacity, presenting a magnificent picture of China-Africa friendship. After the 8th FOCAC ministerial conference, China and Africa have overcome the impact of the pandemic, implemented the “The Nine Programs”, which aims to foster internal growth drivers in Africa and promote quality and effective China-Africa cooperation.
Last year bilateral trade between China and Africa exceeded US$250 billion which reached new heights, making China Africa’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. The daily progress in China-Africa cooperation is opening up new horizons for China-Africa friendship, creating new opportunities for shared development and bringing new benefits to the Chinese and African people.
Under the framework of FOCAC, China-Rwanda cooperation is a manifestation of mutual understanding and mutual support, and sets a fine example of South-South cooperation. China-Rwanda ties are a microcosmic exposition of the mutual desire of the two civilizations to forge a common force of development for the benefit of the two peoples.
Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, Rwanda is pursuing Vision 2050, which aims to attain an economically empowered and prosperous high-income society by 2050. By virtue of being friendly partners of cooperation, China and Rwanda is pursuing all-round cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, quality development, industrialization, manpower skills development, technology transfer and the establishment of a community of health.
Tangible projects which have transformed the Rwandan landscape include New Bugesera International Airport Expressway Project, 200-Borehole-Well Project, Nyabarongo II Hydropower Plant Project, IPRC Musanze Extension Project etc. The above-mentioned projects demonstrate an indelible footprint of deep cooperation between China and Rwanda.
The trade-friendly atmosphere in Rwanda is creating a conducive climate for trade development. In recent years, bilateral trade between China and Rwanda is registered steady and fast growth, firmly supporting the creation of a new development paradigm. By the end of 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries reached a high record of more than US$364 million, increased by 13.4% compared to the same period of the previous year, though facing with long-standing challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese and Rwandan government have been determined in accelerating the development of new business cooperation forms and models to build up new growth drivers for bilateral trade.
Trade cooperation with potential market between the two sides continues to deepen. Since China and Rwanda signed the memorandum of cooperation on e-commerce, live-streaming in e-commerce such innovative sales pattern based on the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) has greatly boosted Rwandan exports, with that of coffee alone increasing by 40 percent in the past two years. Last year, China received the first consignment of dried chili from Rwanda, making it the first African country to penetrate the Chinese market.
This September, China will grant duty-free treatment for imported goods originating from Rwanda that cover 98 percent of the tariff lines, further strengthening the economic and trade relations between the two countries. Both sides are continuing to promote the import and export of quality goods, trade-industry integration and unimpeded trade, and strive to accomplish the goal of stabilizing the quantity and enhance the quality of bilateral trade.
The Coordinators’ Meeting on the implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC will be held soon this month. With the joint efforts of China as well as all members of FOCAC, the meeting will strengthen the exchanges of the implementation of “The Nine Prograns” and promote the cooperation projects, making new contribution to mutual benefit and common development between China and Rwanda, as well as China and Africa.
Wang Xuekun is Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda