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Developing Africa

By LIU HONGWU | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-22 09:31
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China, South Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt can lead cooperation under the BRICS framework to transform China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 into reality

The world has entered a period of volatility with the Russia-Ukraine crisis dragging on and a new round of the Palestine-Israel conflict flaring up. Despite the impact from geopolitical tensions, Africa has been pressing ahead with the African Union's 2063 Agenda.

Looking back at 2023, Africa has been walking on its own path of development, affecting global advancement as a whole. The development of Africa has shown several distinctive features.

First, despite the frequent outbreaks of local conflicts, countries such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Libya, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Madagascar have seen a peaceful transfer of power after the elections, laying a foundation for the peaceful development of the continent.

Second, despite slower economic growth, the continent still boast huge investment potential. The 36th AU summit set a priority on "accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Zone", aiming to boost intra-African trade and attract foreign investment. According to the 2023 Africa Financial Markets Index released by Absa Group, South Africa was the region's largest destination for investment, with countries such as Mauritius and Nigeria also having enormous investment potential.

Third, the region was hit hard by climate change in 2023, with droughts, floods, and locust infestations plaguing the Horn of Africa, and extreme weather events exacerbating the food crisis in Somalia. Natural disasters have displaced millions of people, posing a grave threat to life.

In the face of mounting challenges in security, climate and healthcare, Africa has demonstrated the willingness and determination to participate in the global governance through collective action. At the inaugural Africa Climate Summit held in September, leaders of African countries called for enhanced technological and financial assistance to the continent to boost its climate response and green transition.

Fourth, China-Africa cooperation has reached a new level. With the entry of Egypt and Ethiopia, the BRICS grouping now has three members from Africa, which will drive the continent's development in the next decade and boost China-Africa cooperation. Additionally, 10 years after its inception, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has greatly facilitated the modernization drive in the Global South, especially African countries.

The new edition of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to be held this year, as well as the BRI, which has embarked on its second decade, will deepen China-Africa partnership and align the development achievements of China with the huge potential and growth demand of other developing countries, creating vast development opportunities. This is reflected in four aspects.

First, this year will be an election year, with Algeria, Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia to hold presidential and legislative elections. In other parts of the world, countries such as the US, India and Japan will also have general elections. Amid the turbulent world, it is crucial for African countries to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. It is also important for Africa to proactively participate in global governance, and advance modernization through the China-Africa partnership, South-South cooperation, and the BRICS framework, thus contributing to the creation of a new global political order and safeguarding world peace.

Second, to deliver on the vision outlined in the AU's 2063 Agenda, the continent needs to double down on infrastructure building to upgrade its economy. It is also imperative for African nations to address food security by scaling up agricultural development and promoting industrial construction. China will continue aligning the BRI with the AU 2063 Agenda and help Africa foster new growth engines in fields such as the digital economy. Some landmark projects, such as the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line and the Lekki Port in Nigeria, the Kilwa Masoko Fishing Port in Tanzania and the headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (first phase) will further unleash the development potential of Africa and facilitate intra-African trade and investment.

Third, Africa faces a pressing need to bolster its healthcare system by cultivating local talents, introducing advanced health-related technologies and ramping up investment in disease prevention. In addition, regional countries should promote international cooperation on healthcare and tackle shared health problems by accelerating the construction of cooperation mechanisms in this field.

Fourth, Africa needs to join hands with China to drive continental integration and modernization. Africa holds immense potential for development thanks to its rich natural resources, vast land, young population and huge market. At the China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue held in August, President Xi Jinping announced China's blueprints for supporting Africa's industrialization, agricultural modernization and the training of personnel. The two sides are expected to put forward detailed action plans at this year's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and align China-aided infrastructure projects with the three assistance programs to jointly advance their modernization.

China, South Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt, four of the BRICS member states, can lead China-Africa cooperation under the framework of BRICS to transform the blueprint drawn up in the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 into reality, and strengthen political trust, economic and cultural exchanges, and talent cultivation, thereby jointly working for the China-Africa community with a shared future.

The author is a Changjiang Scholar appointed by the Ministry of Education and director of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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