VIOLET MENGO, Addis Ababa
ZAMBIA established diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China as far back as 1964, shortly after the country became independent.
The two countries have over the years enjoyed cordial relations which have seen various activities undertaken in Zambia for the benefit of the country.
The various activities undertaken include President Edgar Lungu’s state visit to China at the invitation of his counterpart Xi-Jinping in 2015.
During the President’s visit to China, he among other activities visited the Great Hall of China and this act demonstrated the growing ties of the two countries.
Aside the visit, at many occasions, Chinese officials have stated that the relationship with Zambia is in the interest of both the Chinese and Zambian people.
This is a new type of strategic partnership involving political equality, and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.
This act by China has further been exhibited in the implementation of the Forum on African China Cooperation (FOCAC) 2015 where China pledged US$60 billion investment to the continent’s development projects, cancelation of some debt and boosting of the agricultural sector under a three-year plan.
Thus the Africa-China relationship is touted as a new strategic relationship befitting the interest of the Chinese and African people.
Is China a rascal donor, as suggested by some section of the media? Is China helping the developing world pave a pathway out of poverty?
In the recent years, China’s aid programme has leapt out of the shadows. In Zambia for example, the Chinese Government has supported the country in nearly all sectors of the economy with huge aid packages: textiles; infrastructure; construction; manufacturing; agriculture, and of course mining – both extractive and processing. By far the largest investments have been in the mining sector.
This aid the Asian country has extended to many countries on the African continent that are striving to attain the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063 targets.
To fully understand how Africa can engage with global development partners to provide more effective support for the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063, it is crucial to realise the continent’s development aspirations.
To this effect, a report commissioned by Oxfam International provides a detailed assessment of the key development platforms- SDGs, Agenda 2063 and FOCAC and how Africans can mobilise around a common African position on the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 at the level of national governments, regional economic communities and AU, with an aim to improve coordination and cooperation of best practices.
This report is entitled: New Actors, New Models, New Outcomes? African countries’ engagement with China and other development partners in achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
Authored by Professor Chris Alden from the London School of Economics, the report reflects on the experience of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the background to this SDG/Agenda 2063 process and considers what lessons have been learnt that might help to improve policy formulation and delivery of SDGs and Agenda 2063.
These include supporting the betterment of national statistics services and harmonising development indices.
The report highlights many issues on Africa’s engagement with global development partners to provide more effective support for the implementation of the SGDs and Agenda 2063.
Major among them are unpacking China’s new partnership with Africa as seen through key SDG targets and Agenda 2063, emerging and traditional development partners in Africa: how they support Africa to address the SDGs and Agenda 2063 and setting the stage: from MDGs to SDGs.
It analyses the reasons why China and other development partners and investors are becoming more involved in African countries, examining the economic rationales and other sources of interest on the continent.
China’s engagement is given special focus recognising its leading position in the African economies as the top trading partner and a minor investor as well as a source of development cooperation through FOCAC and bilateral ties.
The report explains how deepening Chinese engagement has inspired greater involvement in a wide range of African issues in recent years.
Chriss Alden tackles and analyses the development assistance and investment desirable for the African countries to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
The report concludes by setting out a range of policy recommendations tailored for each of the major actors involved in the African development process.
It suggests among other things, that sufficient improvements in the development efficiency can be made through better data collection and harmonising development indicators between African governments emerging partners and traditional partners.
Africa-China Dialogue Platform, Oxfam International programme manager Gedion Jalata during the launch of the report said there was overlap in the SDGs, Agenda 2030 and FOCAC action plan.
“We recommend the integration of SDGs and Agenda 2063 into National Development Plans (NDPs),” he said.
Head of Partnership Office at the African Union Levy Madueke in his presentation noted that African development is well served with having diverse partners not only China but the European Union and USA among others.
Dr Madeuke recommended to the inclusion of an approach that ensures that Africa collectively speaks as one.
He also emphasised the need to become economically independent and reducing the reliance on external funding.
Convener, Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network Adjunct professor at African Studies in Georgetown University Yoon Jung Park said every country looks for its own interest so China should not be blasted for its interest in Africa.
“Africa needs to look for Africa’s interest emphasising that African leaders need to look at the long term needs of its people,” Dr Park said.
The Oxfam study was looking at how African countries can effectively engage China and others development partners to achieve SDGs and Agenda 2063.