Trust between China, Africa a precious asset

Freight trains are seen at Nairobi station of Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, Nov 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
In the wake of unprecedented global challenges, the enduring trust forged by China’s unwavering trade and investment growth in Africa faces a critical juncture.

The COVID-19 pandemic amplified existing difficulties, including limited access to financing, inflationary pressures, volatile commodities markets and soaring supply chain costs.

Concurrently, China’s internal economic adjustments have sparked concerns among Africans about the depth and sustainability of their partnership. Both Africa and China must address these challenges head-on to uphold the capital of trust that has been painstakingly built over the years.

The two sessions, China’s annual meetings of the nation’s top legislative and political advisory bodies, have provided a significant platform for reflection and action. The delivery of the Government Work Report by Premier Li Qiang during the two sessions set the tone for the nation’s priorities and policies in the coming year. As Africa observes these proceedings, stakeholders must recognize the importance of recalibrating their partnership to navigate these turbulent times.

Africa has long benefited from China’s investments, infrastructure projects and economic collaborations. These initiatives have played a pivotal role in fostering development across the continent. However, the evolving global landscape demands a revaluation of strategies and a renewed commitment to mutual growth and prosperity.

The challenges confronting Africa, exacerbated by the pandemic, necessitate innovative solutions and collaborative efforts. Access to financing remains a significant barrier to realizing Africa’s full potential. China, with its financial resources and expertise, can play a pivotal role in addressing this challenge by facilitating investment and providing technical assistance.

Moreover, the volatility of commodities markets underscores the urgency of diversifying Africa’s economic landscape. China’s support in developing local industries and promoting sustainable growth can mitigate the risks associated with overreliance on commodity exports, as outlined in the promises made during the two most recent meetings of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

The FOCAC commitments aimed to incentivize industrialization in Africa, emphasizing the need for strategic partnerships and investment in sectors crucial for economic diversification. By actively engaging with initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, China can further bolster its visibility and participation in Africa’s industrialization agenda, fostering a mutually beneficial environment for sustainable economic development on both sides.

As Africa and China chart their courses amid uncertainty, it is imperative to prioritize long-term sustainability over short-term gains. Building resilient economies requires patience, perseverance and a shared commitment to inclusive growth.

The trust between Africa and China is a precious asset that must be nurtured and preserved. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and internal adjustments, there exists immense potential for deeper cooperation and mutual benefit. As China deliberates on its future trajectory during the two sessions, let us aspire to renewed commitment and collaboration that will uphold the spirit of partnership and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.

The road ahead may be challenging, but with determination and cooperation, Africa and China can overcome obstacles and forge a path toward shared prosperity.

The author is a professor at the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, a visiting professor at Sciences Po Paris, and an associate fellow of Chatham House.

China Daily