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Reflecting on China-Africa cooperation and developments in 2016

The year 2016 marked a turning point in the China-Africa relations amid unsettled changes in the global economic and political order.

China increased its deployment of combat troops to the continent and more than 2000 peacekeepers were deployed to South Sudan due to political turmoil at the Sub-Saharan based country.

 

 

China has also dangled promises to finally outlaw ivory as Africa’s elephants suffered another brutal year at the hands of poachers.

In December 2016, China announced a plan to phase out all ivory processing and trade by the end of 2017 – a move that conservationists hope will halt the mass killing and threat of extinction of African elephants.

Through its $60 billion investments and loans announced during the December 2015 Johannesburg summit on Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Beijing funded major infrastructure developments in various African states in 2016.

It funded the construction of the first Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in East Africa, the high speed rails in Tanzania and Namibia as well as railways in Kenya and Ethiopia to help boost their economies.

At the 2nd Investing in Africa Forum last September, bioenergy provider Guangdong Zhongke Tianyuan New Energy Technology signed a contract to invest in a bioenergy project in West Africa’s Sierra Leone.

The project that uses local crops to produce ethanol and generates electricity using the crops’ remnants, was echoed a game changer with various analysts saying it will increase income for local farmers and ensure effective power supply to the communities.

According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program, Chinese investment in renewable energy climbed 17 percent in 2016, making it the largest investor in renewables in the world.

“Much of the money flowed into Africa. From hydropower projects to bioenergy plants, Chinese companies are moving beyond investments in traditional oil and gas,” stated the report.

In some parts of the continent, China distributed tons of rice to help alleviate hunger after droughts hit Sierra Leon, Zimbabwe and South Africa leaving millions of people to battle food shortage.

West Africa, in 2016, was the worst hit with Ebola outbreak that killed thousands of people and China, as Africa’s trade partner, brought their medical personnel and equipment to help battle the epidemic.

Much has been done by the Chinese government to lift Africa out of its challenges including people-to-people exchange programmes, helped with adequate skills development programmes, skills transfer initiatives and other agricultural projects earmarked to ensure food supply.

China further continues to support Africa in various aspects and even signs memorandums of understanding in areas of education, trade and technology.

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