Africa hopes China to be regional integration driver

Updated: 2008-04-01 09:58

JOHANNESBURG -- African experts said Monday that China could be a driver of regional integration of Africa and play bigger role in helping economic development of the continent.

They made the remarks at a joint conference hosted by the South African Center for Chinese Studies and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in north of Johannesburg between March 31 and April 1.

The conference with the theme of "China as a driver of regional integration in Africa: Prospects for the future" has drawn more than 150 experts, economists, scholars, senior government officials and entrepreneurs.

Dr. Snowy Khoza, executive manager of DBSA, said China has achieved great success in economic development within decades of years, and has successfully turned a poor and weak China into a global economic power. Africa hopes to draw on the experiences of China in a bid to eliminate poverty for the 900 million people of the continent.

Martyn Davies, executive director of the Center for Chinese Studies of Stellenbosch University, said that China has devoted to economic development and has got rid of poverty for 500 million poor population. China's development road can be a model for the African countries.

Many countries in the world are enthusiastic in participating in the African economic development, however, their development modes are not adaptable to Africa, Davies told Xinhua. For example, "the European aid program has been carried out in Africa for 50 years, but is does no work."

"We sincerely hope that China can be a driver of the regional integration of Africa, and we expect huge investment and various kinds of skills from China," he said, adding that China should further cooperation with the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Economic Community of West African Countries and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Zhong Jianhua attended the conference. He spoke highly of the active progress made in the integration of Africa through consistent efforts by the AU and other sub-regional organizations. Zhong said China is willing to share development experiences with African countries as well as lessons of setbacks. The Chinese ambassador said that China is only a helper instead of a driver in promoting regional integration of the continent.

Francis Kornegay, senior researcher of the Center for Policy Studies, said that the cooperation between China and Africa is comprehensive and sustainable which has been established on the basis of mutual benefit and is a win-win mode.

Professor Gilbert Khadiagala of Wits University said the backward infrastructure has been a bottleneck curbing the development of Africa. China's investment and cooperation with Africa focused mainly on the construction of infrastructure facilities such as roads, bridges, houses, power stations and energy exploration. The African people can actually benefit from the cooperation with China.

China has all along been a sincere friend of Africa. China started to help African countries ever since the 1950s and 1960s amid its own extreme economic difficulties. Of course, China's economic aid at that time was more politically symbolic, which is quite different from the present cooperation mode which has been based on international market rules, said Philippe Durand, lead infrastructure and PPP specialist of the African Development Bank.

David Monyae from DBSA said that China's cooperation with Africa come from multiple sources including government departments, state-run enterprises as well as large numbers of private ones. Various major Chinese banks have all invested heavily in the African countries, who are learning the successful experiences of China, an emerging economic power of developing countries.

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