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African experts hail Sino-Africa beneficial cooperation

By Ndumiso Mlilo in Johannesburg, South Africa | | Updated: 2022-09-08 15:37
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Fencing keeps a zebra out of harm's way as it grazes by the tracks of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya on July 28. DONG JIANGHUI/XINHUA

African experts have said Sino-African cooperation has improved infrastructural development, increased network connectivity and skills transfer in African countries while environmental protection standards have been observed during construction.

This emerged during a recent hybrid conference organized by the Chinese embassy in South Africa and the South African Institute of International Affairs to unpack the Sino-Africa cooperation.

Cobus van Staden, a senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said their research shows that China has shown commitment to the environment by stopping the construction of new coal power plants overseas.

Oscar Otele, lecturer at the department of political science and public administration at the University of Nairobi, said many Chinese construction companies have done a good job while observing environmental concerns. For instance, environmental protection was highlighted by the China Road and Bridge Corporation when constructing the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, which opened in 2017 and connects the two biggest cities in Kenya.

"The China Road and Bridge Corporation was flexible, took an animal friendly approach by opening more routes for animals to pass along the railway. They did an environmental and social impact assessment before implementing the project and followed laid down protocol. The Chinese contractor engaged the local community and integrated their concerns. They built boreholes for them," said Otele.

Motolani Peltola, lecturer at the faculty of management and business at the University of Tampere, said the Chinese company China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation constructed the Tanzanian national fibre optic network. She said this resulted in Tanzanians becoming trained in some technical skills and with some taken to China for further training. Peltola said Tanzanians occupied senior positions in the Chinese company with some doing on-the-job training.

She said, "the project created over 9,000 local jobs and there was knowledge and technical transfer. There was an increased broadband connectivity which fostered e-education connecting 28 higher learning and research institutions".

Peltola noted that the ICT infrastructure put in place by the Chinese company will help to reduce the digital divide and make the continent benefit from the global digital economy. She said the project resulted in many having access to education including the small enterprises contributing to economic growth.

Li Zhigang, Charge de Affairs at the Chinese embassy in South Africa, said China is committed to "sharing developmental fruits with brothers and sister" in the African continent. He said China is ready to provide Africa with quality infrastructure which would contribute to economic growth. Li said they observe the environmental, socio-economic and governance standards to ensure that human beings and nature live in harmony. He emphasized that Chinese activities in Africa are informed by honest, mutual benefit to build a better Africa and a better world.

Gert Grobler, former South African ambassador to Madagascar, who is senior research fellow of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, hailed the Sino-Africa cooperation. He said for Africa to realize its potential it requires friendship with China and other global partners like the United States, India, Japan and European countries.

He said: "China-Africa cooperation, at bilateral and Forum on China-Africa Cooperation level, has been growing from strength to strength. It is unrivaled. African leaders appreciate the Chinese cooperation based on consultation and coordination. China has shown that it is prepared to consistently change and adapt policies to accommodate Africa and put it on a balanced footing".

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