‘How China can help African continent’
The need for the Chinese government to focus more on modalities that would further deepen its relations with countries of Africa, as well as address issues the continent considered important for her socio-economic and political development formed the central message at the inaugural conference organised by Yale University, through its MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, in collaboration with Leading business schools in China and on African continent.
In his keynote address at the event, the founder and chairman of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, said there must be greater awareness of cultural clashes in the course of forging Sino-Africa partnership, which sometimes result in the perception that local sensitivities are being ignored and that African partners are not viewed as true equal.
Speaking on theme: “Growing Africa-China Relations: Opportunities, challenges and the way forward, Prof. Gambari said opportunities appear greater than the challenges, hence there is the need to address the challenges in a serious and open manner.
“African countries need to develop individual, sub-regional and regional strategies, labour; promotion of greater environmental responsibility and environmentally-friendly technologies and working against corruption in all its forms”.
He observed that there is the need for China to work with Africa’s financial development institutions such as African export-import bank, Economic Community of West African States, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), among other bodies, adding that emphasis should be based on infrastructural development of the continent.
The former Nigerian minister of external affairs particularly wants China to encourage and provide concrete support for the innovative African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) aimed at promoting good governance in the political, economic and corporate sphere, which is a voluntary process to which 31 African countries have voluntarily subscribed to since July 2012.
The organiser of Yale University Africa-China conference in Nigeria, Mr. Baba-Jallah Epega, said the conference is about bringing people together to know and understand Africa-China relationship and invest through Yale University in Africa, specifically in an education arena.
According to him, before now, people were of the view that China over-rides Africa through its developmental and infrastructural efforts on the continent. He said with the new regime of President Muhammad Buhari, China is realising that there is a revolution that brings about transparency, anti-corruption thereby helping the two countries solidify infrastructure unlike the usual practice which was based on the principle of “I scratch your back, you scratch my back”.
Epega disclosed that the conference was a sort of test for Yale University, MacMillian Centre to see how their Africa relations can progress through the link of people in the academia and business.
“We have to start with the academia, theory comes before practice. At this stage, it is theories that are in place but they are very linked like the Lagos Business School is linked to the practical commercial business who we follow”, he said.
For Prof. Ian Shapiro, director of the MacMillan Centre for International Studies, Yale University, which is the body sponsoring the initiative in Africa, the organisation embarked on the conference to learn more about China’s changing involvement in Africa in view of its development in many directions and in shaping the future of the continent, as well as the effects on international politics and the economy.
Shapiro was of the view that the notion of resource extraction placed on China is no longer true as China is now involving in service sector, infrastructure, and Internet access across the continent. He said the organisation tried to establish what China is doing particularly now that her economy is slowing down, as well as what would be the effects on their aids, supports and activities on the continent of Africa.
While saying that it is a good thing that the price of oil has slowed down, he urged Nigeria to diversify out of oil as much as possible into areas of agriculture, service economy to the extent that the Chinese economy can help jump-start efforts in that direction.
The two-day inaugural conference, which brings together scholars who are involved in what China is doing in Africa Continent from universities across the world, considered conference sub-themes on: foreign aid and Chinese financial assistance, opportunities in urban development, diaspora communities, renewable energy and environmental protection, among others.
Participants hoped that various deliberations on China’s projects and investments on the continent would help to learn about the challenges and breakthroughs upon which conclusions would be drawn.
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