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Development optimism rises with FOCAC

( Updated: 2015-12-08 10:04

Development optimism rises with FOCAC

Development optimism rises across the African continent, and a new chapter has opened for China-Africa relations. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit 2015 had concluded in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ended the summit by noting the shared equality, mutual interests, and supportive friendship that exist between both sides. He said they would continue to cooperate to overcome challenges.

The summit witnessed the announcement of 10 cooperation plans aimed at addressing three of the bottlenecks hindering Africa's development: the lack of infrastructure, skilled personnel and funding. Beijing will offer 60 billion U.S. dollars of funding, which is what Africa wants. Beforehand, Mr. Thembinkosi Gcoyi, Managing director of Frontline Africa Consulting voiced concerns over FOCAC.

He worries it's Chinese-driven, claiming African countries were not consulted when plans were made, and he wonders to what extent it accounts for Africa's real needs. Yet, Madame Phyllis Johnson with Southern African Research & Documentation Center disagrees.

She said many European countries came and told Africans what Africans want, gave money to do things that Europeans want, and gave much assistance and investments without contributing to development.

She added Beijing offers a different approach, asking what Africans want, what they can do together. Each side knows the other's wants. The planning has been conducted together. She said Beijing works with African governments in a partnership of mutual respect. But, how do other Africans consider FOCAC initiatives? On the streets of Johannesburg, young people remain hopeful that plans would bring Africa many jobs, and help the community expand as a whole. Some believe investment would be spent wisely.

African leaders have hailed FOCAC initiatives. Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said China and Africa share a common vision and common destiny. He's glad the two sides are elevating their partnership beyond the trade level.

Africa has the youngest population in the world, which means there can be problems, but huge potential. The youthful workforce can be actively engaged. FOCAC plans will go a long way to help Africa achieve sustainable development and eliminate poverty. Mohammed al-Dairi, Libya's foreign minister, said the FOCAC plan stands of paramount importance for economic development, and will bring forward win-win cooporation. Meanwhile in Nigeria, Dr Godwin Ichimi wants to see a greater influx of Chinese investment into Nigeria, into Africa, hoping the environment can also be conducive for African investment in China.

The two day summit has come to an end and it's time for action plans to get implemented and time-lines to be set for Africa's benefit. Many experts contend that Western aid is not working in Africa. In the past 15 years, FOCAC has proven to be a robust mechanism.

FOCAC initiatives can provide a one-stop shop to help Africa grow at faster pace. The African continent can position itself to enjoy massive development support extended by Beijing. The ball is in the African governments' court.

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