Analysis: JACK MWEWA
AFRICA and Zambia in particular has a lot to benefit from the People’s Republic of China as past evidence can attest.
From its inception dating back from 1949, and since the start of reform and opening up in 1978, China has completed an extraordinary journey, with human involvement on centre stage.
Against the background of being the world’s biggest developing economy boasting of two-thirds of the global gross domestic product (GDP), China remains reliable development partners.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is chief architect and driver of his country’s growth agenda, rides on the philosophy guided by the principle of not leaving anyone behind, to simply mean every citizen must be involved in national development.
In the compilations book of President Xi’s speeches titled ‘The Governance of China II’, he says, “Only a strong and prosperous country can open itself to the outside world with confidence, and openness in turn promotes further prosperity. China’s achievements since the beginning of reform and opening up in 1978 have proved that openness is an important driver of its economic and social development.”
His concept can be described in an analogy that a home with a big family, and once all members get involved in production, can achieve more than a small family. Numbers count.
By this conviction, President Xi believes that once humanity joins hands in mutual respect and recognition, development would easily be accomplished.
This is one concept President Xi does not keep to himself, nor to his people, but hope to spread the agenda to the whole world.
In this regard, while the other world powers could think of shutting themselves off the rest of the domain, China was opening its doors even wider.
This is a philosophy that has been proven by the Chinese government in driving the national development that has seen the country record unprecedented rapid growth.
In order to reach out to the rest of the world and bring everyone on board, President Xi mooted the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aimed at strengthening China’s connectivity with the world.
It combines new and old projects, covers an expansive geographic scope, and includes efforts to strengthen hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure and cultural ties.
BRI is a concept from ancient Silk Road dating back 2,000 years ago when Chinese ancestors trekked across deserts and waters opening up transcontinental passage connecting Asia, Europe and Africa.
In 2013 BRI was re-established to construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets.
Key to BRI are ideas of cultural exchange and integration, enhanced mutual understanding and trust of member nations, that would lead to innovative pattern with capital inflows, talent pool and technology database.
The Africa-China Reporting Project (the Project) and University of Witwatersrand hosted the South Africa-China Dialogue on the BRI in 2018.
The conference provided an opportunity for South African media, researchers, think tanks, government and the public to engage directly with African and Chinese experts on the concept of BRI and to re-consider Africa’s potential participation in the BRI.
So far, Africa has benefited greatly in infrastructure, human and business developments. Zambia today appears like a construction site going by Chinese-aided projects under way.
By the year 2018, bilateral trade cooperation between Zambia and China grew, with a total trade volume between the two countries reaching US$3.79 billion, with a year-on-year increase of 41.6 percent.
There are over 1,000 Chinese enterprises investing in Zambia with a total volume of investment of more than US$4 billion.
With this milestone, Zambia became one of the top 10 destinations among all African countries for Chinese investors.
China continued to provide vital financial and other resources to the Zambian economy in form of foreign direct investment (FDI), including bilateral assistance and direct trade which enabled Zambia to grow its economy, create jobs and spur positive improvements of the GDP.
Like other African countries, Zambia needing substantial financial investment, through BRI sectors like agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development, energy, mining, finance and the railway sub-sectors could be boosted.
The author is a sub-editor at Zambia Daily Mail.
Analysis: JACK MWEWA