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China's policy towards Africa has the potential to lift it out of poverty

China's policy towards Africa has the potential to lift it out of poverty

Lovemore Chikova — China's policy towards Africa has the potential to lift the continent out of poverty if all its contents are implemented accordingly. In the last nine years, the Asian economic giant released two position papers on its policy on Africa, which act as guidelines to its dealings with the continent.

The underlying input of the policies is that African countries are sovereign states with their own chosen paths to development.

China makes it clear that it will not interfere with the internal affairs of any African country, but will assist them to develop and become modern societies. The China's priorities in Africa are the continent's industrialisation and helping it to modernise its agriculture.

The basis being that without industrialisation, African societies will remain backyard economies and not much progress will be made in the uplifting of the standards of living.

Agriculture remains the mainstay of most African economies and its mechanisation will go a long way in addressing food insecurity and attracting the much-needed foreign currency through food exports.

China's second African policy was released by Chinese President Xi Jinping in South Africa last year, during the Second Summit of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation.

The first paper, which set a new era in China-Africa cooperation was released in 2006. What is important at the moment is that provisions of these policy papers be carried out fully and effectively, since they play an important guiding role in all-round development of China-Africa relations.

But this requires African countries to play their part, especially after China has already shown its willingness to assist the continent in its development.

The African countries should propose viable projects for funding by Chinese institutions, considering that most of the projects are now being funded by the private sector.

Chinese financial institutions such as the China Export and Import Bank, China-Africa Development Fund and the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are now at the forefront of providing funding for projects in Africa. Chinese multi-billion State-owned enterprises and private companies are also increasingly getting interested in investing in Africa.

These have been responsible for the huge infrastructural development that has been taking place in many African countries. But all efforts from the Chinese government and African firms are guided by the Asian country's Africa policy documents. This is because the policy demonstrates China's determination and goodwill to develop friendly and cooperative relations with African countries.

According to the policy, China believes it has a common and shared future with the African continent, with the relationship dating back many centuries ago. The relationship between the two is anchored on sincerity, friendship and equality. And this explains why China and Africa have committed themselves to mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.

In dealing with Africa, the buzz words for China are strategic partnership, political equality, mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange. It is economic win-win cooperation that is fast proving to be the mainstay of this relationship, as it is bringing real development that had eluded African countries for so long. Since 2009, for example, China has been Africa's largest trading partner, and trade volumes rose four times that of 2006. In the same vein, China's contribution to Africa's economic growth has significantly increased.

In the policy, China will prioritise support for Africa's industrialisation, which has become a key area of focus in the friendly relations. The policy states that allowing industrial alignment and capacity cooperation to play a leading role in bringing about overall development will help accelerate the industrialisation of Africa.

This will provide a solid foundation for Africa's economic independence as well as self-reliant and sustainable development. This industrialisation process will be heavily supported by the development of special economic zones, industrial parks and science and technology parks to attract investment and talent.

"China will give priority to building pilot industrial capacity cooperation demonstration zones in African countries with appropriate conditions," states the policy. Another important area of China's policy on Africa is agricultural modernisation. It is hoped that a vibrant agricultural system will have an increased output and help expand the industrial base of African countries.

In this regard, China says it is willing to share its experience and technology in agricultural development with African countries. The Asian country supports efforts by African countries to improve their agricultural technology and techniques to produce and process agricultural, livestock and fishery products. Practical action in this regard include the setting up of High-Quality and High Yield Agriculture Demonstration Projects in African countries.

This has been complimented by people-to-people exchanges, which now see almost three million visits made between China and Africa every year.

China has since proved that it is devoted to the all-round development of friendly relations with Africa. The principles of China's Africa policy are backed by sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, upholding of values and friendship, justice and shared interests.

Sincerity According to the Chinese position paper on Africa, sincerity means that "China insists on the principles of equality, mutual trust, solidarity and mutual support. This entails China respecting the choices of African countries when it comes to development priorities. China says it is ready to exchange governance experience with African countries "on the basis of equality and voluntarism, and promote mutual understanding and acceptance of and learning from each other's political system and development path".

Practical results The policy states that it adheres to honouring commitments with real actions and results. China employs its traditional philosophy of "building a nest to attract the phoenix and teaching people how to fish". In this endeavour, the policy states that China will support African countries' efforts in infrastructure and human resources development.

This will help the African countries overcome the above constraints that have been the major stumbling blocks in Africa's development.

Affinity China's Africa policy states that the Chinese and African people should live together in harmony, and "promote inter-cultural dialogue and enhance exchanges of ideas, policy alignment and mutual understanding".

This is meant to provide a solid and popular basis for China-Africa friendship. China says in its policy on Africa that it will give "full play to financing platforms and tools, which include preferential loans and other means of policy-based finance, the China-Africa Development Fund, special loans for African small and medium-sized enterprises." There are also the Africa Growing Together Fund, China-Africa industrial cooperation fund, and the BRICS' New Development Bank to offer financial assistance to African countries.

The policy states that China will encourage more African commodities to enter its market and continue to grant zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of taxable items from the least developed countries. China says it will strengthen quality control of the goods exported to Africa and build more sales channels, reinforce cooperation in inspection and quarantine with African countries, and jointly crack down on counterfeit or substandard import and export goods.

As the largest developing country, China has already provided assistance to African countries for a long time and will continue to do so within its capability, notes the policy. China's policy on Africa touches on many other areas which are meant to uplift relations between the two sides.

But it takes political will from both sides for the provisions of the policy, which is supported by the 10-Point Plan as enunciated by President Xi in South Africa last year, for the policy to be successfully implemented.
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