The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which took place in Beijing, China, on September 3rd to 4th, may have come and gone. The summit which brought 53 African presidents together, had the theme: “China and Africa: Towards An Even Stronger Community With A Shared Future Through Win-win Cooperation.”
The event was championed by the Peoples Republic of China to help Africa shore up its developmental strides. Despite its enormous challenges of bad leadership, infrastrutural deficit and low manpower, Africa has continued to be a very big market for most countries.
In fact, Africa, especially Nigeria has become the jolly good fellow to most developed countries like the United States of American and the People’s Republic of China.
China-Africa trade has been growing rapidly since the launch of ten major cooperation plans three years ago. In the first half of 2018, bilateral trade rose to about 16 percent in one year to $98.8 billion. Through the ingenuity and determination of its people, China alone, lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty since the 1980s. Not only that, China is working tooth and nail to reach those remaining in extreme poverty, and work to fight the global challenges that threaten progress in all corners of the globe.
For Nigeria, growth is important, but it must be inclusive. The benefits of overall growth simply cannot be captured by a privileged few if we expect to see progress and prosperity in the world.
To fuel that growth and build a healthy, educated, engaged society, Nigeria, should emulate China and invest in quality education, in health, in good infrastructure, sanitation, and water for everyone. Without these things, the potential of millions is left on the sidelines, permanently curbed due to preventable barriers.
China has followed a remarkable development path over the past decades, fueled by strong growth, paired with investments in people to ensure that growth can translate into poverty reduction. Consider that forty years ago, China was a largely agricultural poor economy, and that today it has one of the world’s largest economies, with its people moving into more skill-and knowledge-intensive sectors.
It is interesting to also note that early all segments of the population, including the poor and vulnerable, have shared the benefits of this progress- and China has ambitious plans to reach those who are still left behind. This was the right path for China’s context, and can provide lessons that are helpful for Nigeria.
One of the questions that we ask often is: what is the development path for underdeveloped country like Nigeria that is still struggling to progress?
Will Nigeria follow the same path like China, where people moved out of agriculture, into manufacturing, and onward from there? Or is there scope for some of today’s developing countries to make their own path, learning from those countries that have now moved into middle-income status, and leapfrogging some of the steps that got them there?
To answer the questions, the President of China, Mr Xi Jinping, at FOCAC, said that while dealing with Africa, China will pursue a common interests and puts friendship first in pursuing cooperation. Jinping, also stressed that the sure way to boost China-Africa cooperation “it is for China to complement Africas development through its own growth, and it is for both China and Africa to pursue win-win cooperation and common development.
“In doing so, China follows the principle of giving more and taking less, giving before taking and giving without asking for return,” he added.
Not done, the president maintained that China will work with Africa to achieve shared goal of building a closer China-Africa community with a shared future and turn it into a pacesetter for building such a community for mankind. He proposed that China and africa shoud build a community with a shared future to assume joint responsibility.
To show the Chinese willingness, he maintained “We could increase political and policy dialogue at various levels, enhance mutual understanding and support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, and boost coordination on major international and regional issues. Such efforts will enable us to uphold the common interests of China and Africa as well as other developing countries.
“Let us build a China-Africa community with a shared future that pursues win-win cooperation. We could both seize the opportunity created by the complementarity between our respective development strategies and the major opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative.”A country ready to create consolidated friendship like China pleaded to Africa on the need to see to it that the Belt and Road Initiative and the AU Agenda 2063, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the development programs of African countries better complement each other. It is believed that with these efforts, areas of cooperation could be expanded, unlock new cooperation potential, consolidate traditional areas of cooperation, and foster new highlights of cooperation in the new economy. With sincerity, China will do more to help Nigeria alleviate poverty, pursue development, increase employment and income, and better the lives of its people.
Even before this summit it is on record that access to telephony services by Nigerians have increased and has provided well over $32 billion in foreign direct investment over the last 15 years.
And this massive development have been underpinned by rapid investment and significant deployment of digital mobile infrastructure by telecommunication operators in many African countries, most especially by Chinese companies–Huawei technologies.
ven as part of that ICT ecosystem which is guided by the recognition of the boundless potential of Nigeria within the digital economy, Chinese companies have invested over $16 billion to date in fixed assets and facilities nationwide to build and support most network operators in the country.
It is time for the Nigerian government to intensify efforts in order not to allow opportunity slip through its fingers for any reason.
–Usman contributed this piece from Abuja