The People’s Republic of China said on Monday that it wants to strengthen its cooperation with Africa by working to remove trade barriers and ease of doing business with Africa, but a few bottlenecks needed to be addressed first.
Speaking at a China-Africa media forum on Monday in Johannesburg, China’s ambassador-designate to South Africa, Lin Songtian, said that both China and Africa were faced with a historic opportunity to synergise their respective development strategies.
Songtian said China intends to help Africa in its efforts to addressing lack of quality infrastructure, professional and skilled personnel as well as financial resources. He described the three challenges as major bottlenecks impeding Africa’s development.
“China wants to support Africa to develop independent and sustainable systems of industrialisation, food security, as well as public health and disease prevention and control,” Songtian said.
“Most importantly, China aims to help Africa resolve long-standing problems of jobs, food and health.”
In recent years, China has significantly grown to become Africa’s largest trading partner, main investor and engineering contractor, with trade volumes soaring to US.$85.3 billion in the first half of 2017.
In 2015, China pledged to implement 10 Cooperation Plans that mainly focus on accelerating Africa’s industrialisation and agricultural modernisation, with a total of US $60 billion of funding.
However, Songtian said as much as China and Africa enjoyed fruitful results and bright prospect of cooperation, it was also important to acknowledge bottlenecks and problems each country faces when it comes to trade.
He said there was a lack of “mutual understanding” and appreciation, and a lack of market economy experience, particularly with promoting inflow of investment.
“There is also room for improvement in some African countries in terms of their laws and regulations, government policies, and public service. Among these problems, the most fundamental challenge is the lack of mutual understanding and an outdated conception or misconception of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa,” Songtian said.
“An important reason for this problem is that, so far, we have been getting information on each other mostly through Western media. The stories that we have been told are invariably through coloured-lens that are being purposefully pessimistic or deliberately smears China-Africa cooperation.”