Chinese deals benefit Africa
ACBF executive secretary, Soumana SakoSako, made the comment in the wake of accusations by some Western media that “China wants to colonise Africa.”
He dismissed the allegation as a “sheer big lie”, saying that “(China’s entry into Africa) is in the best interest of Africa. If we African countries have something to sell and there are many buyers then we are in a good position.”
He said contrary to Western media reports that when China built infrastructure in Africa, it brought cheap labor, thereby creating unemployment in Africa, Chinese investment was creating jobs on the continent.
“I can tell you that China has always been and remains a good friend of Africa,” he said in an interview with Xinhua.
He cited his own experiences when he was a schoolboy in Mali to demonstrate that the Chinese had given selfless aid to African countries when they were in need.
The Chinese, he said, had assisted Mali to build its first factories in the 1960s after the country attained its independence. They were not doing this in order to exploit the newly independent countries, but to consolidate the political independence by building economic independence, he said.
Other notable examples of assistance that the Chinese government gave African countries include construction of major infrastructure like the railway line linking Tanzania and Zambia. China had also assisted African countries to build their human resources base through training of thousands of specialists in various fields.
“I have not seen anything in terms of statistics to show Africa is losing out in its economic relations with China. Instead, Africa stands to gain. If Russian, Chinese, Japanese, European and American companies compete for Africa, the competition between them is in the best interest of Africa,” he said.
Political partnership between African governments and China had also ensured that decisions made in international organizations were in the best interest of the poorest countries.
In recent years, the experience in most African countries was that whenever governments issued international tenders to build infrastructure, Chinese companies were likely to win the bid because their offers were competitive, he said.
Sako said the advent of Chinese investment and trade in Africa had also provided the people with good products at lower prices compared to those produced locally or manufactured elsewhere in the world.
“It is in the best interest of African consumers to have access to the best products at the lowest price,” he said, adding that African countries could import form China the same products in line with the purchasing power of their citizens.
Sako said most African countries had noted that China was not interested in imposing its philosophy on the continent as it respected the sovereignty of the countries it did business with and allowed them to retain control over their economic policies.
He said it was evident that China appreciated the need for African countries and was not propping up dictatorial regimes and bad governance. “China shows respect for Africa and the sovereignty of African governments,” he said.
China is supporting democracy and good governance in Africa through positive encouragement without imposing or applying punitive measures, he said.
“We have to ensure decisions are made locally, not in Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Paris or London but by local people, and not imposed from the outside. African governments should uphold principles of participatory and accountable governance in line with the best interests of Africa and not to please any outside big power,” he said.
On relations between China and Africa, Sako said, “It would be good if China could assist training institutions in Africa to build capacity to train specialists here in Africa. That would be a positive development.”
There was also need for China to invest more in the productive sectors in Africa instead of just concentrating on commerce and trade, he said.
China should assist African countries to develop capacity to add value to their products instead of exporting them as raw materials. This, Sako said, would create more jobs for the people as well as creating more value addition.
Sako visited China in 1985, when China started to introduce economic reforms and policies to open up the economy.
He said the experience that China had acquired in implementing various economic reforms that include market reforms designed to attract foreign investment, would be of immense benefit to African countries, most of which are grappling with economic challenges.
Established in 1991, the Harare-based ACBF is dedicated to helping African countries, in partnership with domestic and external stakeholders, to build sustainable capacity for good governance and poverty reduction on the continent.
Sako expressed the hope that China would soon become a member of the ACBF and thus contribute more to help African countries out of poverty.
The ACBF has a total of 34 African and non-African member governments and organisations, with the African Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank being its major sponsors.
Sako, who assumed office as ACBF executive secretary in 2000, said although Zimbabwe is going through very challenging times, it had the capacity to emerge out of its economic crisis and use its huge potential to benefit its people. ‘ Xinhua-New Ziana.