China development model draws Africa

By Joyce Chimbi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/22 21:08:32

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers speech during the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 25, 2019. Photo: IC

It is with significant expectations of stronger China-Africa ties that the continent joins China to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC).  

China's focus on Africa has had significant impact on the continent through delivery of much-needed infrastructure, for the larger good of the society. 

Africa now benefits from significant foreign direct investment, aid and better terms of trade. China has been Africa's largest trading partner since 2009, when it surpassed the US. China-Africa trade continues to grow at a breathtaking pace.

Statistics released by the General Administration of Customs of China for January to April 2019 indicate that China's trade volume with Africa was $66.04 billion. This is a 3.3 percent year-on-year increase, exceeding the overall growth rate of foreign trade in the same period last year by 4.4 percentage points. China's exports to Africa were put at $33.29 billion, a 5.6 percent rise year on year. Further, China's imports from Africa were $32.75 billion, up 1.1 percent year on year. 

But it is China's rags-to-riches story that continues to inspire a continent where millions are ravaged by poverty.    

By restructuring traditional donor-recipient relations, China has engineered a shift from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness by providing the tools that Africa needs to grow.

China's phenomenal and unprecedented socioeconomic transformation over the last 70 years is a remarkable model that many struggling economies are eager to replicate.

Against great odds, China has lifted an estimated 700 million of its people out of poverty over just 40 years. Other statistics that are bound to remain a major talking point in high-level inter-government forums is the effectiveness with which China has addressed poverty. By the end of 2017, the proportion of the rural population living below the Chinese poverty line fell from a staggering 97.5 percent in 1978 to 3.1 percent.

Some four decades ago, China was facing the same socioeconomic challenges Africa faces today. 

This eastern nation has contributed at least 30 percent to the world's growth for many consecutive years, and has emerged as the second-largest economy. 

It is this leap from a struggling developing country to an economic powerhouse with a greater role and influence across the world that has endeared China to Africa. 

China-Africa relations are not new and can be traced back to 1955 when the first Asian-African Conference was held. A year later, Egypt became the first African country to establish diplomatic relations with China. 

In the 1960s, more than 10 African countries forged diplomatic relations. It is in the 1970s that significant diplomatic relations were established between China and 25 independent African countries. 

Today, the continent could not be more eager to work with China. Deeper ties have now gone beyond the economy and entered the sphere of politics and peacekeeping.

China advocates for peace based on the fact that stability is a key ingredient for accelerated socioeconomic growth.

While China has endeared itself to Africa through its apolitical approach to their partnership, there are growing voices calling to learn from China's political experience. Chinese political leaders characteristically have excellent levels of education. Improving people's livelihoods has remained the centerpiece of China's policy and this has been well executed by China's political leadership.

Africa has never stood so close to knowledge, expertise and experience as it does today standing next to China. This could be an opportune time for the continent to learn and embrace the political experience of China.

As China celebrates yet another landmark in its history, there are many lessons for Africa from the east.

The author is a Kenya-based journalist.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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