Conference on G20 Compact with Africa sets continent on new development path
Published: Nov 24, 2023 10:59 PM
Illustration: Liu Xiangya/ GT

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/ GT

Africa's economic growth and development path is entering new ground as issues that have held the continent back took center stage during the Conference on the G20 Compact with Africa 2023 held in Germany on Monday. The main agenda was to strengthen private investment and cooperation with regard to key issues such as sustainable energy supply, trade, infrastructure and new technologies.

The conference was the fifth since the G20 Compact with Africa was launched under the Germany G20 presidency in 2017. China as a G20 member is critical for Africa as it is the largest developing country, the biggest emerging power and also the second largest economy in the world. This political status and economic scale have made China one of the most important actors in the G20 and a model for countries in Africa keen on emulating China's economic success.

Africa's perceptions of China are far different from Africa's perceptions of the Western world. China has no colonial aspirations toward Africa, nor does it have a colonial history with the continent, and its support for Africa has no strings attached. China respects the sovereignty and cultures of other states and has a hands-off approach to politics.

For Africans, China is a lasting development partner, bringing in unconditional soft loans and access to capital, quick delivery of services and highly affordable goods, funding of peacekeeping and an alternative viable and sustainable development model. For the Western world, Africa is still a pawn in a fight for geopolitical power and influence.

As has been the case between Africa and China, the platform of the Conference on the G20 Compact with Africa provides an opportunity to expand and enhance investments. Similar to China and Africa's goal of a strong partnership toward a shared common future, the Berlin Summit presented G20 with a prime opportunity to develop a roadmap for the immediate enhancement of economic and business cooperation.

In this regard, the forum is particularly important for Africa, as the African continent is the region most affected by the impacts of the world's greatest challenges. The 20 countries with the lowest estimated GDP per capita in 2023 were all in Africa, except for Yemen.

Since China set the path of equal partnership for a shared future, there is a discernible shift in relations between a few key nations in the Global North and African countries, especially in light of the need for urgent development-driven economic reforms. Toward this goal, the Compact with Africa is backed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.

The platform has therefore changed the landscape for Africa, pulling the continent from the periphery of economic and development discourse to the center stage. G20 is backed by unwavering support from leaders of the member countries and international organizations. China-Africa relationship has shown that cooperation between an economic giant and poor yet emerging nations is possible.

G20 works closely under the Compact with Africa with reform-oriented African partners on shared goal-improving economic conditions in the member countries so that more foreign or private investment flows into these countries. The forum defines itself as the key format for dialogue and cooperation between reform-oriented African countries, G20 partners and beyond. More than a dozen African countries, including the Compact members that have shown an interest in joining the Compact, attended the G20 summit. This is a major leap from 2019 when only four African countries attended the G20 summit.

With the conference also serving as a forum to promote further political dialogue, foster economic collaboration and advance concrete measures to boost private investment, this will only serve to further strengthen ongoing ties among the G20 members.

Relations between China and Africa are continuing to strengthen, and Africa is keen to follow in the footsteps of its eastern partner. China being a key member of the G20 forum has inspired confidence in the African continent to view the forum as a platform to achieve accelerated growth and development.

Africa has long raised concerns over relations between the continent and powerful developed nations. With China at the heart of G20, these concerns are becoming an issue of the past as more African countries engage with G20.

The author is a Kenya-based journalist. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn