African ambassadors call for joint development under BRI and AfCFTA

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/9 2:44:06

Aerial photo taken on June 10, 2018 shows a bridge built with Chinese assistance in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo. Photo: Xinhua

Ambassadors, economists and entrepreneurs from Africa and China called for strengthened cooperation between China and Africa at an Ambassadors Roundtable in Beijing on Tuesday, discussing opportunities the two sides could seek under China's 14th Five-Year plan (2021-25) and joint development possibilities under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Africa Continental Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA).

Zhu Min, a former vice president of the People's Bank of China, briefed the ambassadors, senior diplomats, entrepreneurs and officials on China's next five-year plan at the roundtable organized by the Center for China & Globalization (CCG), stressing that a dual-circulation development pattern does not mean a closing of China's economy, and China will open further to foreign companies and investors in the future.

Zhu said that structural change, geopolitical risk and an aging society are key challenges for the country over the coming 30 years. China's economy must emphasize high-quality development and continue to target improving people's income, not just increasing its GDP.

China and Africa are very complementary in industrial structure, and China attaches great importance to economic cooperation with Africa, said Zhu, who is also a former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Africa is very rich in minerals, land, and human resources, and has great potential for economic development, he said. 

China is also very willing to cooperate with African countries to help establish digital infrastructure to promote the development of Africa, as well as on epidemic prevention and control, and vaccines, Zhu said. 

H.E. Rahamtalla M. Osman, Permanent Representative of the African Union (AU) to China,  stressed the need for infrastructure development between AfCFTA and the BRI.

In a previous interview with the Global Times, Osman asked for China's assistance to promote resource mobilization across AfCFTA, especially through investing more in infrastructure, which is hindering continental connectivity. 

"This could be done through the BRI, because the goals of the BRI coincide with the AfCFTA," Osman told the Global Times.

"AfCFTA may be the biggest area in the world and will encompass 1.3 billion inhabitants if it is fully implemented. It is also one of the largest markets for China to invest in," said Osman, noting that the huge market, will benefit private sector investors and Chinese companies operating in Africa.

H.E, Martin Mpana, ambassador of Cameroon to China and Dean of African Ambassadors Group, also thanked Chinese private firms that have invested and made great contributions to the development in Africa.

While describing these Chinese firms as "pioneers," Mpana also said they hope difficulties these pioneers are facing - such as problems related to currencies and exchange rate - can be settled soon, so that a cooperation "highway" between China and Africa can be built. 



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