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China-Africa experts seek stronger ties to fight COVID-19

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 31st August 2020 02:06 PM

The experts made the call during the recently-concluded Annual Conference of Experts on Africa-China Relations, held in Nairobi, Kenya from August 18 to 19.

China-Africa experts seek stronger ties to fight COVID-19

Prof. Peter Kagwanja, the President and Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute. (Courtesy photo)

The experts made the call during the recently-concluded Annual Conference of Experts on Africa-China Relations, held in Nairobi, Kenya from August 18 to 19.

Chinese and African scholars are pushing for stronger cooperation between the Asian nation and the continent to bolster the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and boost development in Africa.

The experts made the call during the recently-concluded Annual Conference of Experts on Africa-China Relations, held in Nairobi, Kenya from August 18 to 19.

The two-day virtual conference held under the theme: "Enhancing China-Africa Cooperation in Fighting the COVID-19", was attended by over 40 African and 15 Chinese experts.

In a joint declaration issued at the end of the conference, the experts call for close cooperation between China and Africa to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty and loss of livelihood resulting from illness.

They also agreed on the need to strengthen think tanks to provide knowledge to fortify China-Africa cooperation in combating poverty through the promotion of manufacturing and industrialization.

"The future of China and Africa lies in stronger cooperation, rejecting divisive international power politics and building stronger bridges across humanity, civilizations, and countries," the document says. 

The scholars observed that Africa's COVID-19 response and recovery plan needs to draw inspiration from past experience of cooperation with China and Africa in manufacturing.

The experts denounced ‘isolationism, protectionism and diminished investment flows' from Africa's traditional partners especially in the West, backed the Forum on China-Africa Framework and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as potential drivers to support the African Union's Agenda 2063.

According to the declaration, Africa should develop and implement a continental policy framework to engage China as a united front of 54 countries.

In a period of 40 years, China has emerged from a country that was poorer than 52 African countries in 1980 to become richer than all African countries combined.

Through policy integration, institutional coherence, stronger technical capacity, robust financing mechanism and prioritized research, innovation and technology transfer, Africa's capacity for manufacturing can grow with support from China, the experts noted.

They want the continent to prioritize political stability to enable Africa to plan and execute policies on a long-term basis, drawing lessons from 40 years of China's opening up and reform after 1978.

They cited the long history of cooperation between China and Africa, the potential to form the world's largest market with a population of 2.78 billion people, and previous collaboration on the Ebola fight. 

The scholars are confident that African think-tanks can provide the knowledge base for China-Africa mutual cooperation through initiatives such as the China-Africa Institute (CAI).

The two-day conference was organized by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China and the Africa Policy Institute, a think tank.

During the conference, Prof. Peter Kagwanja, the President and Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute, said cooperation between China-Africa was evolving in form and structure.

With the COVID-19 pandemic decimating production and slowing jobs and the fight against poverty, Kagwanja maintained that cooperation with China was critical to the revival of industry.

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