China's contribution to Africa's socioeconomic development improves infrastructure in multiple sectors
The friendship between Africa and China is entrenched in a long history of strong relations and cooperation based on the foundation of equality and mutual respect.
This mutually beneficial relationship is centered on political liberation and economic development, enabled by opportunities presented by fora such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Since its establishment, FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for enhancing solidarity and cooperation with African countries.
Launched in October 2000 in Beijing as a tri-annual collective dialogue platform for cooperation between China and Africa, FOCAC is in many ways a model of South-South cooperation, signifying the strengths of utilizing an incremental and concrete method to respond to development issues of shared concern.
Built on a foundation of pragmatic cooperation, equality and mutual benefit, FOCAC offers an opportunity to boost the implementation of the African continent's Agenda 2063. Agenda 2063 aims to serve as a catalyst for development on the continent while strengthening African integration and unity, thus presenting a collective effort and an opportunity for Africa to regain its power and determine its own destiny. It is a program that is underpinned by the African Union's vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, an Africa driven and managed by its own citizens - representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
Even with the challenges posed by uncertain global economic conditions, the two sides continue to complement each other with a shared vision that embraces the principle of "sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith." China's rise and Africa's renewal have gone hand in hand, creating a historic opportunity for the strengthening of China-Africa relations as well as the implementation of Agenda 2063.
Over the past few decades, China's rapid economic growth has positioned the African continent as the optimal investment destination. The economic powerhouse has focused on securing the long-term energy supplies needed to sustain its rapid industrialization, ensuring sources of oil and other raw materials across the globe. Through significant investments on the continent, China has contributed to the economic and social development of many countries in Africa.
China's contribution to the socio-economic development of Africa has seen it contribute to, among other things, the telecommunications, infrastructure, manufacturing, finance, media and agriculture sectors.
Up to the end of 2012, China had offered assistance to 53 African countries and undertaken over 1,000 complete sets of projects covering industry and agriculture, infrastructure, culture, education and health. China has provided over 60,000 training opportunities for African countries and dispatched over 350,000 technical professionals to Africa.
China has built more than 2,000 km of railroads, 3,000 km of highways, and over 100 schools and 100 hospitals in Africa. China has altogether cancelled 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) worth of debt owed by African countries. Since 1963, China has sent medical teams with more than 20,000 doctors to 51 African countries, and trained tens of thousands of medical staff for Africa.
These contributions attest that China's assistance to Africa has indeed significantly improved the overall environment and conditions for social and economic development, especially infrastructure, which is essential to the implementation of Agenda 2063.
Our resource-rich continent, a dynamic and youthful population, improving socio-economic levels, as well as improved governance and business settings in many African countries are establishing the fact that Africa is a growing market and a competitive investment destination.
Over the past few decades, we have seen how most African economies have implemented sound macro-economic and market-oriented policies which have spurred the expansion of trade and investment with China and other countries in the international community.
It is our hope that the FOCAC 2015 discussions will enable the continent to foster strengthened socio-economic and development relations with China, contributing to Africa's efforts to achieve Agenda 2063.
We are confident that the spirit of partnership between China and Africa will permeate the corridors of FOCAC 2015 as participants aim to find solutions toward strengthening sustainable development in Africa, China and the developing world at large.
The author is Brand South Africa China chief representative