Africa needs concrete measures of cooperation instead of empty promises
Published: Aug 02, 2022 12:36 AM
China-Africa relations Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China-Africa relations Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

As US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer completed his Africa trip including visits to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Ethiopia on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel this week to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Africa is full of hope and development vitality. Driven by the strong impetus of China-Africa cooperation, 20 African countries have achieved an annual GDP growth rate of over 5 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is regrettable that the world today is confronted with profound changes and a pandemic, both unseen in a century. The Ukraine crisis triggered by geopolitics and a Cold War mentality has seriously damaged the security of global industrial, supply and capital chains, and led to a global food, energy and financial crisis, making the people around the world, especially those in Africa and other less developed countries, innocent victims.

We should remain particularly vigilant that developed countries have concentrated their attention and funds on ideological and bloc confrontation, and politicized mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation, which has further marginalized Africa, and made African people suffer from severe production and survival crisis as well as threat of famine. 

The motives of Western policy toward Africa are impure. Western countries, led by the US, do not want to see Africa realize self-sustainable development, nor do they want to see the rapid development of China-Africa cooperation. They are worried about China's growing influence on Africa brought about by increased China-Africa cooperation. What they can do is fabricate lies, mislead international public opinion, and make every attempt to undermine the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa. The US and other Western countries have established a number of initiatives or cooperation plans with Africa, claiming to increase infrastructure investment in Africa and other developing countries. However, all of them are aimed at hedging against the influence of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), rather than truly supporting Africa's own self-sustainable development.

In addition, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), asserting to promote trade between the US and Africa, sets many additional conditions for beneficiary countries, and uses trade preferences as means to suppress those who fail to meet the US' requirement, which has led it to become a political tool for the US to pressure African countries. The US has removed a number of African countries from AGOA, and revoked their duty-free trade access to the US.

Western investment in Africa has shown inadequacy in both energy and capital. In recent years, the US and other Western countries have been deeply trapped in their own political predicaments and faced multiple challenges such as economic recession, soaring CPI, political polarization, wealth inequality, racial conflicts, social unrest and rampant epidemic. They are busy creating troubles to divert public attention away from domestic conflicts, and hardly talk or care about Africa's development.

According to a report released by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa in 2018, estimates of Africa's financing requirements for annual infrastructure investment range from $130 billion to $170 billion. In its 2021 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers said that the US alone faces $2.59 trillion in infrastructure needs over 10 years, meaning a funding gap of $259 billion per year. With its domestic demand not yet satisfied, how can the US address Africa's urgent needs?

Due to China's influence, G7 leaders announced the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) at the G7 summit not long ago, pledging to raise $600 billion for infrastructure investment, among which the US claims to mobilize $200 billion in public and private funds rather than direct funding by the government. The earlier B3W, which the US pledged to provide $40 trillion, turned out to be nowhere to be found. Now, for the G7 multilateral initiative, the US can barely raise $200 billion. 

In its cooperation with Africa, the West pays lip service only but delivers little. From Obama's Power Africa to Trump's Prosperity Africa, from last year's B3W to this year's PGII, there has never been short of empty promises or beautiful words. What is missing is actions. The Power Africa promised to invest and produce 20,000 megawatts of electricity in Africa by 2020. According to statistics, by the end of 2020, actual power generation was only 4,194 megawatts, less than a quarter of the promised amount. Prosperity Africa delivers even less. It's been nearly a year since the B3W was announced, but the US government has invested a mere $6 million in global infrastructure, much less from its commitment of $40 trillion, no more different from a pie in the sky.

China pursues the new path of win-win cooperation for common development and shall never adopt the old mindset of a zero-sum game. China has been committed to developing relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, mutual learning and common development. We stand ready to share without reservation our development experience, opportunities and achievements with Africa.

China's policy toward Africa has a clear goal and is action-oriented. The only purpose is to support African countries in improving their capacity for self-sustainable development, breaking the development bottlenecks of inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel and shortage of financial resources, so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development.

China's Policy toward Africa is open and transparent. The political declarations and action plans for every three years, adopted after consultation at each conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, are all open to the public through media and serve as the common guidelines and measures of China-Africa cooperation.

Africa has been eager to pursue its own development and international cooperation, but there is never a lack of catchy strategic slogans from major powers. Africa needs concrete measures and actions of mutually beneficial international cooperation instead of empty promises. Africa requires equality and mutual respect instead of preaching by lectures. Africa wants capacity building for self-sustainable development instead of simple export of raw materials. Africa welcomes win-win cooperation for common development instead of "one gain, one loss." Whoever helps Africa break the three development bottlenecks is Africa's true friend and reliable partner.

China is willing to vigorously carry out multilateral cooperation for multi-win and win-win outcomes among China, Africa and other countries on the basis of fully respecting Africa's wishes, so as to bring the marginalized Africa back to the main track of development, help Africa achieve lasting peace, self-sustainable development, and make new contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

The author is president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn