The Chinese role in Africa’s industrialization agenda

China’s rapid economic growth has been the greatest story of the 21st century. Its history and experience show that the major pillars behind this success are the development of its own industries.

As a result, China has been able to double its GDP for a number of years which helped lift more than 800 million people out of poverty.

On the other hand, however, economies in the majority of African countries are poor and stagnant. This, despite abundant resources, a cheaper labor force, and a ready market.

China and Africa enjoy cordial diplomatic and trade relations lasting several decades. And this is why the East Asian country believes that for Africa to realize economic independence it has no option but follow its path, that of industrial development.

And this is not just talk given that it is an endeavor the world’s second-largest economy is eager to play a major role. As a part of the eight major initiatives of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian disclosed that Beijing is ready to work closely with Africa in implementing the industrial promotion.

In his message during the ongoing celebrations to mark 20 years of FOCAC, Amb. Zhou acknowledged the continent’s common aspiration to accelerate industrialization and speed up economic transformation.

He lauded Africa’s firm commitment to this drive and pointed out that China remains the most reliable partner of the continent in its pursuit of industrialization.

“We encourage financial institutions to scale up support for China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation.” He said

According to Zhou, China is particularly looking at stepping up support in the development of industries as well as special economic zones and industrial parks in Africa.

To expedite the realization of this dream, he disclosed that the Communist Party-led nation is not only willing to put more money on this project but also stands ready to share its experience on industrialization with Africa.

“Since Covid-19 struck, China and Africa have cooperated in research and local production of PPEs, medical equipment and medicines, and training medical professionals. We will continue to play our part in the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016-2025) as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly On 25 July 2016.” He said via a video link from the embassy in Nairobi.

Indeed, the Chinese envoy is not alone seeing as economic experts have on numerous occasions spoken about Africa’s great potential in industrialization. Strong demand for products that are primarily sourced from overseas has been a key feature in the continent.

But, with abundant resources, Zhou believes China’s transference of industrial capacity, equipment, and technologies will make a huge difference in the continent.

The Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia opened for business in July 2016

He says African industrialization needs huge investment from both home and abroad. But as a partner, he promises that China will avail opportunities and resources to drive this agenda.

“Chinese manufacturing now makes an important and positive part of the global industrial and supply chains. China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group of 400 million. Demand on the massive domestic market in China will continue to unleash the endless potential for the whole world. African countries will benefit greatly from China’s new development.” The diplomat remarked.

This undertaking is coming at a time China has invested heavily in footwear and garment industries both in Ethiopia and Rwanda respectively among others. And both have been a tremendous success.

Going by this trend, it is possible that China might place great focus on the light industry, which is labor-intensive, for a start.

Already, China, alongside the African Union, has developed key strategic plans for development, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa, the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, and the Agenda 2063, in the hope that the 21st century would be an era for African development through industrialization and economic integration.


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