President Ramaphosa extends Lunar New Year wishes to Government and people of China

President Ramaphosa extends Lunar New Year wishes to Government and people of China

President Cyril Ramaphosa extends his best wishes to the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China on the occasion of the Chinese Lunar New Year and Annual Spring Festival.

President Ramaphosa has, on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, expressed his wish that the advent of the Year of the Rabbit will indeed endow citizens of the People’s Republic of China with the longevity, peace and prosperity associated with the zodiac sign for the year ahead.

South Africa values the vibrant economic relations and political cooperation that characterise its partnership with the People’s Republic of China.

President Ramaphosa said: “My dear brothers and sisters from China and all Chinese communities around the world: I wish you all a happy Lunar New Year and a prosperous Spring Festival 2023.

“On behalf of the Government and People of South Africa, I wish the Government and the people of China, including here in South Africa, a happy and fulfilling time of goodwill, celebration and friendship, as you renew the bonds between friends or reunite with family during this period.”

“As we enter the New Year, we are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China in 1998.

“In addition, South Africa will succeed China as Chair and host of the next BRICS Summit, during which we hope to receive His Excellency, President Xi Jinping in South Africa. These occasions provide ample cause for celebration.”

NMG, Huawei partner to tackle lack of jobs

NMG, Huawei partner to tackle lack of jobs

The Nation Media Group (NMG) and Huawei yesterday launched a job fair that will see 10,000 Kenyans trained annually.

The fair also celebrated the digital training of 2,500 youth under the Huawei DigiTruck project over the past three years.

Bringing together the Federation of Kenya Employers and the National Employment Authority, among others, the fair initiated discussions on how employers can bridge the unemployment gap in the country as over five million youths remain jobless. Kenya’s unemployment rate stands at 5.7 per cent, higher than the 2.7 per cent East African average.

Acknowledging the significance of the initiative, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said that while opportunities for employment are limited, many graduates do not have the skills required in the job market.

“This job fair is an important link between job seekers, job creators and potential employers or incubators of ideas,” said the DP.

He explained that young people need to take advantage of digital technology to benefit from more than 230 million jobs projected to be created in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of digitisation.

“These jobs will require ICT skills. An estimated $130 million investment opportunities lies in digital skills in Africa,” said Mr Gachagua.

NMG Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stephen Gitagama said the partnership aims to promote sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work.

“With an estimated 900,000 Kenyan youth entering the job market annually, the situation is not projected to improve, except with targeted efforts and initiatives from the government as well as private sector players.

“ This partnership has come to drive policy discussions on gainful employment across sectors, encourage companies, organisations and institutions to offer jobs/internships to alleviate unemployment, and to mentor, inspire and empower young talents,” he said.

Mr Gitagama added that NMG will continue to create awareness on job opportunities for the youth, as well as share information about career development and networking, and impart the skills required in the job market.

“The Nation Media Group commits to continue partnering with other like-minded institutions like Huawei, government ministries and departments and associations, with the aim of transforming the society it serves,” said Mr Gitagama.

Huawei Kenya Deputy Chief Executive Officer Steven Zhang said his company is committed to connecting Kenya, and that it will continue to contribute to the country by building digital infrastructure, digitising government and businesses, and providing jobs and internships.

“Huawei directly and indirectly employs over 102,000 people and we train several thousand each year. We are a global lead in ICT, and we commit to sharing our knowledge and building capacity amongst Kenyans … Huawei is also keen to support the President’s dream of creating a digital super highway,” said Mr Zhang.

Mr Geoffrey Kaituko, the Principal Secretary for Labour and Skills Development said that close to 1.4 million Kenyans enter the labour market every year. In 2021 alone, the total jobs created were 926,000.

“This shows that every year our economy is unable to generate adequate jobs for participants in the labour market. It is a challenge that the government has accepted and will rise to,” he said.

China a dependable partner for Africa to advance commerce under the AfCFTA

China a dependable partner for Africa to advance commerce under the AfCFTA

China is today the single biggest trading partner with African countries. Geographically, China might be smaller that Africa, Europe or North America. But in terms of population, it’s the most populous nation of 1.3billion people almost the same population as the African continent. So in a way China is by its own right a continent.

Now African countries want to trade more with each other on the continent, and questions have been asked; will this hurt or benefit big trading partners like China?

Chinese officials have publically said that, China is wholly supportive of the AfCFTA, seeing it as a ‘win-win’ solution and arguing that free trade and multilateralism are key foundations to the global system. In November 2020, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi assured African that his government will provide cash assistance and capacity-building training to AfCFTA secretariat.”

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area of a single market for goods and services of almost 1.3 billion people across Africa that enables deepening economic integration of Africa. It was established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The trade area could have a combined gross domestic product of around $3.4 trillion, but achieving its full potential depends on significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures across African signatory nations.Th world bank report 2020, estimated that by 2035, real income gains from full implementation of the agreement could be 7 percent, or nearly $450bn.

The AfCFTA aims to reduce tariffs among members and covers policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade.

Rwanda was selected   among countries to kick start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) framework in a pilot phase that also involves six other countries, namely; Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius and Tanzania.

Recently, RwandAir, put in place a preferential freight tariff for Rwanda exporters under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA, according to media reports. The promotional offer gives Rwanda exporters a low pay of $1.4 per Kilogramme is aimed to motivate the business community to leverage AfCFTA- one of the 13 flagship projects of Agenda 2063 in Africa. It should be noted that in August, 2022 RwandAir had increased airfreight fee on a kilogramme of fresh produce from $1.8 to $2.

So the future of AfCFTA can only be looked at in the mirror of other regional integrations ambitions that came before it. Its liberalized trade regime will, hopefully; gradually lead to an integrated continental market with tariffs phased out on 97% of tariff lines within 10-13 year. This means we expect a fully-fledged AfCTA, between the year 2031 and 2034.

Africa’s traditional trading destination.

Africa export and import patterns have in past been dictated by their former colonial masters, religious and other western historical links. China is a new entrant in this mix and has no historical baggage in Africa.

So let us face the facts; it is not likely that Europe, major colonial powers and Christianity exporters to Africa, nor North America, a successor to European Influence in Africa are going to applaud ACFTA.  It is like children’s seesaw, one can only go up when one goes down and vice versa. The higher Africa goes up the lower the west goes down. On the other hand China and Africa, at least for the moment, don’t have to be on the seesaw.

What will be the linkage between the intra-Africa CFTA and China?

The focus on intra-African links is expected to involve China in two main areas: trade and the building of infrastructure to facilitate trade.

Infrastructure

AfCFTA is not going to be implemented by White color business people. The men in suits and neck ties, and the women in high heels, flying in Boeing and Airbuses.  It will only be successful through young men in jeans, truck suits and women in Kitenges. These will require adequate roads and railway.  Infrastructure; which will be necessary for the implementation the reduction; and latter total removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The former colonial masters did not build these roads and railways for the purpose of intra African trade. They built a few and they are not about to do so today. Particularly, the western so called “democratic models”, will not facilitate that. Neither Democrats nor Republican will win votes by promising to build Infrastructure in Africa, the same goes for Europe political parties. On the other hand, china is already dealing with Africa on infrastructure development under the Forum for Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

China is already the highest investor in African infrastructure, and so Beijing is un-doubted going to play a key role in projects to set up transport corridors that will support African, intra African trade, and industrialization. This is already happening through “The Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) framework. Africans are not naïve, they don’t see China as a God sent messiah, China has its own interests, what we shall be looking for is a Win –Win partnership.

Potential for trade partnership instead of tensions

The AfCFTA is designed to boost trade amongst African partners. Skeptics argue that, this could be the very reason that is likely to cause friction between Africa and China under AfCFTA , which is the continent’s single-largest trading partner.

Some commentators have accused China’s role as the world’s factory, producing cheap products as being the cause that has stunted the development of African manufacturing and supply chains.

With AfCFTA, Africa will take into account the rules of origin. So contrary to prophets of doom, African will not import cheap “Chinese clothes” and make shirts and pants to export to the neighbours. Countries with vast unutilized land like Zambia, DRC and Tanzania, will grow cotton, or even invite Chinese, and other experts to make clothes for export under AfCFTA.  Countries that traditionally practice animal husbandry, like Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Senegal etc. will invite china to process the hides and skins to produce, leather and leather products. This is what will qualify for rules of origin.

For the AfCFTA to succeed we don’t need bureaucracies. We don’t need American Congress, European parliament, or British House of Commons, to act. We need a partner with whom once we come out of the negotiation room, and the deal has been agreed upon the implementation starts immediately.

Author: Hanane Thamik is currently a Ph.D. scholar at the School of Information Management, Wuhan University, simultaneously a member of the Morocco-China Friendship Exchange Association, the author of China Today ,the former author of CGTN Africa, Africa-China Review, and the Canadian magazine ( Etats de splendeur ). She was chosen as Morocco’s youth representative for the Belt and Road initiative by the Moroccan embassy in China, the Arab youth participant in the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum 2020, and the Ambassador of Wuhan City to the world by Changjiang Weekly Magazine, and the Moroccan Youth Representative 2020 (FOCAC, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs). She also won the awards of the Belt and Road Tourism ambassador 2019, the Outstanding African Student in China 2018, the Cultural Achievement Award by UNESCO, the Wuhan University Outstanding International Students award 2019 and 2021, the Maotai scholarship “Excellent academic performance and outstanding overall performance 2019 and 2021,” the outstanding individual among international students fighting novel coronavirus pneumonia 2020, the only Moroccan winner of the essay contest named “experience China -our anti-epidemic story” 2020 (China Scholarship Council), the Chinese Government Outstanding International Student in China 2020 ( China Scholarship Council ),  the winner of the 5th “My Beautiful Encounter with China” essay contest for international students in China, and recently the first prize of the competition of the 37th Chu Cai Composition Competition. She was one of the successful 54 young people worldwide who has been selected to participate in a training program organized by the United Nations in Switzerland in 2019. She has also more than 20 publications among them the United Nations Geneva 2019 report, Peking University 5000-mile reports 2020 and 2021 which were handed to high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Beijing, and her most recent SCI paper, “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Sustainable Development in Electronic Markets,” which received attention from many experts across the world and was posted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on its official website.

Path towards modernization: responsibilities of young leaders of the CPC and African political parties

Path towards modernization: responsibilities of young leaders of the CPC and African political parties

Your Excellency, LIU Jianchao, Minister of the IDCPC, other leaders of IDCPC present, leaders of African political parties, Chinese experts, young leaders of the CPC and African political parties, brothers and sisters, friends – it is a great pleasure to participate in the China-Africa Thematic Briefing on the Twentieth National Congress of the CPC and the Sixth China-Africa Young Leaders’ Forum under the theme of Path towards modernization: responsibilities of young leaders of the CPC and African political parties.

Kindly allow me first to associate myself with the congratulatory messages from the Secretary General of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Honourable Veronica Maina and the Party Leader and President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E Dr William Ruto in congratulating the CPC for the complete success of the 20th National Congress and the re-election of General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Having read through the Report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC presented by General Secretary Xi, I would like to highlight six key points in seeking to identify paths to modernization which African political parties can adapt to and young leaders of the CPC and African political parties can be emboldened to carry forward.

Firstly, it is important to uphold the unified overall leadership of our respective parties. Over the past five years, the CPC has continued to strengthen the overall leadership of the Party and the centralized, unified leadership of the Central Committee. As the cornerstone of the ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ the centralized, unified leadership of the Central Committee lends great wisdom and foresight in governance.

The second notable point is the high importance attached to implementing a people-centred philosophy of development.The CPC has worked continuously to ensure people’s access to childcare, education, employment, medical services, elderly care, housing, and social assistance, thus bringing about an all-around improvement in people’s lives.

The philosophy of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), is that everyone in Kenya matters and through the Party, Kenyans of all walks of life have the opportunity to contribute to nation building and to better their lives and the lives of future generations. The vision of the Party is to realise an equitably empowered Kenyan society anchored on a bottom-up economic model that promotes equal opportunities, shared prosperity and improved economic welfare. A central plank of the UDA manifesto has been job creation, especially for the youth. Bottom up economics is about investing the limited capital available where it will create the most jobs – at the bottom of the pyramid.

Bottom Up Economic model is also in line with my third notable point, which is the Chinese modernization of common prosperity for all in order to meet the people’s aspirations for a better life. Achieving common prosperity is a defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics as the CPC embarks on the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country.

By improving the system of lifelong vocational training and improving the system for creating jobs by encouraging business start-ups, provides a sustainable path to modernization ensuring both long term inclusive economic growth and equity.

The fourth notable point is Advancing Whole-Process People’s Democracy. Complementing the Bottom Up Economic Model, Whole-Process People’s Democracy offers viable solutions in building a ‘Bottom Up Democratic Governance Model’. Through the UDA grassroots Party institutions of County Congresses, Constituency Congress, Ward Congress and Polling Centre Members Committee, we can expand democratic channels, and diversify the forms of democracy. This model is similar and in line with people’s congresses at all levels in China which are formed through democratic elections, responsible to the people, and subject to their oversight.

The fifth notable point is the great new project of party building. As a relatively new Party, the UDA is on course to consolidate its gains in the recent general elections by building strong Party structures and establishing complete country wide scope. In a similar vein to the CPC’s great project of party building, UDA can also endeavour to strengthen the ideals and convictions of its Party members, see that they are committed to the Party’s purpose, and resolve the fundamental question of the worldview, outlook on life, and values they should embrace.

Of critical importance is the need for training and selecting promising young Party officials and encouraging young officials to work and gain experience in local communities and areas where conditions can test their resolve and provide practical assignments as an important part of their training. In addition, Party building should also include strengthening the Party organizations, keeping a clear focus on the primary level, using Party building initiatives to propel rural revitalization and intensifying Party-building efforts in urban communities.

The last notable point is maintaining a global vision. In that regard it is important that we build synergy between the Chinese path to modernization and the African path to modernization as envisaged in the African Union Agenda 2063.  

The Seven Aspirations of AU Agenda 2063 include a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development as well as an integrated continent, political united, based on the idea of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s renaissance. Pan Africanism reflects a range of political views. At a basic level, ‘it is a belief that African peoples, both on the African continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history but a common destiny’. In the course of re-imagining Pan-Africanism, the re-owned Pan Africanist Issa Shivji has argued that ‘we should reconstruct it as an ideology of the working people, as an ideology of social emancipation and, therefore, inextricably embedded in the struggle of the working people.’ It is time to champion a ‘Pan Africanism in the New Era’.

Through small-scale pilot programs it is time to establish agriculture value chains and agro industrial parks across the continent as special economic zones whilst harnessing the African free trade area and promoting further African Union economic integration. It is time to reconstruct the Pan African agenda by promoting an African Union – Caribbean Community trade agreement and a Pan African diaspora strategy for attracting high level talent back to the continent. It is time to demand a collective seat on the United Nations Security Council as well as renegotiating the rules of the World Trade Organization. It is time to reconstruct globalization through soft power diplomacy in the promotion of a shared peace and prosperity and in doing so reduce the disparity of wealth and income inequality.

In addition, China has put forward the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and it stands ready to work with the international community to put these two initiatives into action in building a human community with a shared future as the way forward for all the world’s peoples. China is committed to narrowing the North-South gap and supporting and assisting other developing countries in accelerating development. Furthermore, through solidarity and cooperation we can promote greater democracy in international relations, and work to make global governance fairer and more equitable as well as safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core.

By striving in unity to pursue the above, the young leaders of today have a critical role to play. In a televised address to the nation on the 21st August 2021, UDA Party leader and now the 5th President of Republic of Kenya following the recent general election, H.E President William Ruto stated:

‘Today, I call on every young person in our country to step forward, stand up to be counted, summon their energy, talent and knowledge to imagine, fashion and create a new Kenya. I urge the young people of our country to refuse to be sidelined, to resist being marginalized but to assume their rightful place in the national discourse. Your place at the center of the national discourse is your right. Do not wait to be invited; it is your place. Your future, and that of our nation, is anchored on your readiness to assume your rightful position. Now henceforth, we must build an alliance of all Kenyans with our young people at the core so that we can tap into our creativity, talents, energy to fashion the new Kenya where success is not based on who you know but how hard you work, a Kenya where nobody is left behind’.

In the concluding remarks in delivering the Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi stated, and I quote;


Young people: You should steadfastly follow the Party and its guidance, aim high but stay grounded, and dare to think big and take action but make sure you can deliver. You should strive to be the new era’s great young generation, a generation with ideals, a sense of responsibility, grit, and dedication. As you endeavour to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects, your youth and vitality will bloom in full splendour”. End of quote

With these few remarks, I call on my fellow young leaders to be the torch bearers in lighting the path to modernization, harness the spirit of China Africa friendship and strive together in unity in building a China Africa community of shared future in the New Era.

As the year draws to an end, allow me to wish you all a peaceful, prosperous and a healthy New Year.

Long live Kenya China friendship!
Long live China Africa solidarity!
Long live the Communist Party of China!
Xie Xie dajia.


Edwin Mwenda
Foreign Affairs Advisor
United Democratic Alliance

BUILDING THE BLCU OF BOTSWANA

BUILDING THE BLCU OF BOTSWANA

Photo Credit: Screenshot of one of Nikita’s Chinese tutorials posted on her official Facebook page

The year 2020 is one that most people will remember for a number of reasons; from the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic to major anti-racism protests across the globe. But Nikita Rathane, from Botswana, will also remember 2020 as the year when she decided to put aside doubts and fears to formally embark on the journey of building the International Language Hub; an institution that she hopes will become the BLCU of Botswana.

BLCU stands for Beijing Language and Culture University. According to the university’s website, it is “China’s No.1 Chinese language learning university for foreigners.” But for Nikita, BLCU is much more than that.

Where it all started

She was still in high school when Nikita first became interested in Chinese culture. “Prior to learning Chinese, I had seen a lot of Chinese people coming to Botswana. And they were actually building my senior school. I would see them there doing some construction and I always wanted to speak to them, but I could not. So I got interested in their culture,” she recalls.

When she completed high school in 2014, Nikita decided to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana. Her outstanding academic and cultural performances resulted in her admission to Beijing Language and Culture University four years later.

For Nikita, who is now in the final stage of her Master’s program, studying at BLCU has been a life-changing experience. “BLCU is a mini United Nations as we call it, mini lián hé guó. And I can tell you right now, no one can ever take the experience I have had there from me. I have seen how beautiful the world can be when people understand each other,” she says.

It is from her experience of the “mini United Nations” that the idea of starting the International Language Hub was born. “In Botswana, we don’t have a language university. Although I knew that for a long time, it didn’t bother me until I went to Beijing Language and Culture University,” she explains.

The early steps

Currently, Nikita and her small team offer a variety of services. These include online language classes and tutorials, translation and procurement services, as well as the Optimize Your Language Skills Program where they train people on how to leverage their language skills to earn money. “We are also looking at going beyond just teaching languages. We are teaching cultures. We are teaching people about how to run businesses using cross-cultural communication skills,” she emphasizes.

Photo Credit: Nikita’s official Facebook page

So far, the International Language Hub has gained traction among business people, students, and parents who want their kids to learn Chinese. “Most of the Batswana who are interested in learning Chinese are actually people who are in business dealing with Chinese people day-to-day. So they understand why they need Chinese,” Nikita explains. “There are students who are currently in China and they are doing the one-year preparatory course, where they just learn the language. We help them basically with tutorials. They are taught in their school and they come to us basically for some help because there are students who are actually going through some cultural shocks. Just living in China is not easy. So we come and help you deal with the cultural shock. It’s not only teaching the language but it is also consulting. That is a consultancy service that we have. We bridge the cultural barriers for them,” she adds.

A big vision

“Actually I envision the Hub as a University. A language University,” Nikita says when asked about where she sees the International Language Hub in 10 years. According to her, the Hub will become like BLCU; an institution that brings people together through language and culture. “In the future I am looking forward to having international students coming specifically to Botswana not to learn Setswana only, not to learn Chinese only, not to learn French only. I see them come to Botswana to experience the culture of Botswana and to experience other countries’ cultures while being in Botswana. I have realized that it’s actually possible to create a different world inside a specific country,” she says.

As she works to bring to life the institution that she envisions, Nikita is hopeful about what the future holds. “We already have the Botswana International University of Science and Technology. As the name suggests, it focuses on sciences and technologies like the one in Beijing. And we have the University of Botswana, which has been doing an exceptional job. There are many majors there, language included. But I think that in this country we need a language university and I would be very honored to be the pioneer of that.”

About the author:

Gaelle Ayamou is a journalist, a communications specialist, and a researcher. She writes about startups and Africa-China relations. She also enjoys creating visual content about communication, education, as well as women and youth empowerment in Africa. Her research has mainly focused on media representations of Africa, Africa-China media relations, as well as the use of AI in journalism and communication and its ethical implications.

China a dependable partner for Africa to advance commerce under the AfCFTA

China a dependable partner for Africa to advance commerce under the AfCFTA

China is today the single biggest trading partner with African countries. Geographically, China might be smaller that Africa, Europe or North America. But in terms of population, it’s the most populous nation of 1.3billion people almost the same population as the African continent. So in a way China is by its own right a continent.

Now African countries want to trade more with each other on the continent, and questions have been asked; will this hurt or benefit big trading partners like China?

Chinese officials have publically said that, China is wholly supportive of the AfCFTA, seeing it as a ‘win-win’ solution and arguing that free trade and multilateralism are key foundations to the global system. In November 2020, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi assured African that his government will provide cash assistance and capacity-building training to AfCFTA secretariat.”

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area of a single market for goods and services of almost 1.3 billion people across Africa that enables deepening economic integration of Africa. It was established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The trade area could have a combined gross domestic product of around $3.4 trillion, but achieving its full potential depends on significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures across African signatory nations.Th world bank report 2020, estimated that by 2035, real income gains from full implementation of the agreement could be 7 percent, or nearly $450bn.

The AfCFTA aims to reduce tariffs among members and covers policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade.

Rwanda was selected   among countries to kick start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) framework in a pilot phase that also involves six other countries, namely; Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius and Tanzania.

Recently, RwandAir, put in place a preferential freight tariff for Rwanda exporters under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA, according to media reports. The promotional offer gives Rwanda exporters a low pay of $1.4 per Kilogramme is aimed to motivate the business community to leverage AfCFTA- one of the 13 flagship projects of Agenda 2063 in Africa. It should be noted that in August, 2022 RwandAir had increased airfreight fee on a kilogramme of fresh produce from $1.8 to $2.

So the future of AfCFTA can only be looked at in the mirror of other regional integrations ambitions that came before it. Its liberalized trade regime will, hopefully; gradually lead to an integrated continental market with tariffs phased out on 97% of tariff lines within 10-13 year. This means we expect a fully-fledged AfCTA, between the year 2031 and 2034.

Africa’s traditional trading destination.

Africa export and import patterns have in past been dictated by their former colonial masters, religious and other western historical links. China is a new entrant in this mix and has no historical baggage in Africa.

So let us face the facts; it is not likely that Europe, major colonial powers and Christianity exporters to Africa, nor North America, a successor to European Influence in Africa are going to applaud ACFTA.  It is like children’s seesaw, one can only go up when one goes down and vice versa. The higher Africa goes up the lower the west goes down. On the other hand China and Africa, at least for the moment, don’t have to be on the seesaw.

What will be the linkage between the intra-Africa CFTA and China?

The focus on intra-African links is expected to involve China in two main areas: trade and the building of infrastructure to facilitate trade.

Infrastructure

AfCFTA is not going to be implemented by White color business people. The men in suits and neck ties, and the women in high heels, flying in Boeing and Airbuses.  It will only be successful through young men in jeans, truck suits and women in Kitenges. These will require adequate roads and railway.  Infrastructure; which will be necessary for the implementation the reduction; and latter total removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The former colonial masters did not build these roads and railways for the purpose of intra African trade. They built a few and they are not about to do so today. Particularly, the western so called “democratic models”, will not facilitate that. Neither Democrats nor Republican will win votes by promising to build Infrastructure in Africa, the same goes for Europe political parties. On the other hand, china is already dealing with Africa on infrastructure development under the Forum for Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

China is already the highest investor in African infrastructure, and so Beijing is un-doubted going to play a key role in projects to set up transport corridors that will support African, intra African trade, and industrialization. This is already happening through “The Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) framework. Africans are not naïve, they don’t see China as a God sent messiah, China has its own interests, what we shall be looking for is a Win –Win partnership.

Potential for trade partnership instead of tensions

The AfCFTA is designed to boost trade amongst African partners. Skeptics argue that, this could be the very reason that is likely to cause friction between Africa and China under AfCFTA , which is the continent’s single-largest trading partner.

Some commentators have accused China’s role as the world’s factory, producing cheap products as being the cause that has stunted the development of African manufacturing and supply chains.

With AfCFTA, Africa will take into account the rules of origin. So contrary to prophets of doom, African will not import cheap “Chinese clothes” and make shirts and pants to export to the neighbours. Countries with vast unutilized land like Zambia, DRC and Tanzania, will grow cotton, or even invite Chinese, and other experts to make clothes for export under AfCFTA.  Countries that traditionally practice animal husbandry, like Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Senegal etc. will invite china to process the hides and skins to produce, leather and leather products. This is what will qualify for rules of origin.

For the AfCFTA to succeed we don’t need bureaucracies. We don’t need American Congress, European parliament, or British House of Commons, to act. We need a partner with whom once we come out of the negotiation room, and the deal has been agreed upon the implementation starts immediately.

Author: Hanane Thamik is currently a Ph.D. scholar at the School of Information Management, Wuhan University, simultaneously a member of the Morocco-China Friendship Exchange Association, the author of China Today ,the former author of CGTN Africa, Africa-China Review, and the Canadian magazine ( Etats de splendeur ). She was chosen as Morocco’s youth representative for the Belt and Road initiative by the Moroccan embassy in China, the Arab youth participant in the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum 2020, and the Ambassador of Wuhan City to the world by Changjiang Weekly Magazine, and the Moroccan Youth Representative 2020 (FOCAC, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs). She also won the awards of the Belt and Road Tourism ambassador 2019, the Outstanding African Student in China 2018, the Cultural Achievement Award by UNESCO, the Wuhan University Outstanding International Students award 2019 and 2021, the Maotai scholarship “Excellent academic performance and outstanding overall performance 2019 and 2021,” the outstanding individual among international students fighting novel coronavirus pneumonia 2020, the only Moroccan winner of the essay contest named “experience China -our anti-epidemic story” 2020 (China Scholarship Council), the Chinese Government Outstanding International Student in China 2020 ( China Scholarship Council ),  the winner of the 5th “My Beautiful Encounter with China” essay contest for international students in China, and recently the first prize of the competition of the 37th Chu Cai Composition Competition. She was one of the successful 54 young people worldwide who has been selected to participate in a training program organized by the United Nations in Switzerland in 2019. She has also more than 20 publications among them the United Nations Geneva 2019 report, Peking University 5000-mile reports 2020 and 2021 which were handed to high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Beijing, and her most recent SCI paper, “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Sustainable Development in Electronic Markets,” which received attention from many experts across the world and was posted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on its official website.

A Zimbabwean student goes to China’s countryside to learn about the country’s victory against poverty

A Zimbabwean student goes to China’s countryside to learn about the country’s victory against poverty

After immersing himself in his studies for several years, Tungamirai Eric Mupona, 23, a postgraduate student from Zimbabwe at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, finally had a chance to go to China’s countryside to find out answers to questions he had in his mind. 

Mupona is from a village in Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe. After graduating from high school at the age of 17, he came to China as an international student to study applied physics at the Zhejiang University of Science and Technology. After graduation, he went to Zhejiang University for postgraduate studies. He actively participated in social activities, hoping to gain an in-depth understanding of China, especially the development and changes in China’s rural areas. 

During his stay in China, he visited rural areas in Ningxia, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and other places to learn about China’s poverty alleviation experience with the aim to apply it to his hometown. 

“I have been going to the grassroots level after I came to China. I grew up in rural areas and have a very strong affection for the countryside. I hope to tell others what I have seen and heard in China when I return to my home country,” he told ChinAfrica.  

During his visits, Mupona experienced local Chinese culture, and witnessed rural revitalisation and functioning of grassroots governing organisations.  

Tungamirai Eric Mupona learns how to plough the land for red date under the guidance of a local farmer in Xingxian County, Shanxi Province in 2021

Chinese model of ending poverty 

In August, when visiting Jinyun County in Lishui City, Zhejiang Province, Mupona was deeply impressed by ancient Heyang Village, the scattered remains of ancient dwellings of Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1912), and the cultural heritage of Wuju Opera of Jinyun.  

“I saw that the traditional culture of the county was very well preserved. Its exploration of rural revitalisation and common prosperity is based on traditional culture,” Mupona said.  

The experience showed Mupona that developing cultural industry enables their culture to be better inherited and protected, and cultural heritage development also brings employment opportunities, revitalises rural economy, and enhances community identity. 

Last summer, Mupona and more than 10 young Africans came to Xingxian County, Shanxi Province to study poverty alleviation campaigns in this former national poverty-stricken county. During a week’s visit, he found that the local households had moved from earthen caves in the mountains to residential areas furnished with complete living facilities. 

Through the development of paper cutting, millet planting and other industries under the guidance of the government and village cadres, the income of the villagers had been continuously raised. 

“I was surprised to see that the first secretary of the village branch of the Communist Party of China knew every corner of the village and every family’s situation like the palm of his hand,” Mupona told ChinAfrica. In terms of grassroots governance, the local government always puts people’s interests first, which is a people-centred approach. Under this concept, as long as an action can help local people to improve their livelihood, they will not hesitate to do it, Mupona said. “I think it is worth learning, and it is not easy.” 

After visiting dozens of counties and villages, which have gone through the transition from poverty to revitalisation, Mupona learned that speedy, sustained and inclusive development is critical to reducing poverty. He believes that poverty reduction in Africa also requires the same kind of strong political commitment and will as China has demonstrated. 

“When Zimbabwe’s economy is unstable, people in rural areas are particularly affected. Therefore, we should put the issue of agriculture, rural areas and farmers at the top of the national development strategy, because that is the key,” he said.  

Tungamirai Eric Mupona holds a little lamb in Xingxian County, Shanxi Province, in 2021 

African kindness 

During his five-year stay in China so far, Mupona has also been passionate about volunteer activities.  

For people in Hangzhou, the young African is not a stranger. Wearing a reflective safety vest and speaking fluent Chinese, he is often seen helping to maintain traffic flow, or guiding tourists. For that, he has earned the nickname of Foreign Lei Feng, a reference to a People’s Liberation Army soldier who is widely regarded as a role model for altruism in China.  

In fact, when Mupona first arrived in Hangzhou in 2017, he found it difficult to fit into the new environment. As such, he decided to participate in volunteer activities to meet new people. He has since been involved in activities such as maintaining traffic flow at the West Lake scenic area, assisting passengers at the railway stations, and teaching senior Hangzhou residents English. 

“When I do social welfare work, I feel so satisfied and happy. To me, volunteering is multidimensional: Besides serving others, I also get a sense of belonging, and feel at home,” Mupona said. Also, through voluntary work, he has learned a lot about the local society and culture, and has had a platform to communicate and make friends with local people.  

Mupona has also established an international volunteer service group Abroad Path Leaders to help more international students to adapt to life in China. The online platform currently has volunteers from nearly 100 countries. 

“Many foreigners come to China and want to learn the local culture and language, but they are afraid to speak. Participating in volunteer activities can not only contribute to the city, but also give a chance to practice Chinese and show the culture of your country,” he said.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mupona stayed in China and actively participated in the management, service and coordination of the university’s international students during the epidemic. At the same time, he also published articles to refute some false claims on the Internet that slandered China’s fight against the epidemic, and shared China’s epidemic prevention stories on social media platforms.  

In May 2020, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) officially recognised and thanked a group of African volunteers who helped to fight the coronavirus in China. Mupona was one of the guests at the ceremony.  

Lin Songtian, president of the CPAFFC, described Mupona and other African volunteers as contributors and disseminators of China-Africa friendship and outstanding friendship messengers. He said he sees the future and hope of the China-Africa relationship from the goodwill actions of these young African people.  

Why more foreigners want to know more about China.

Why more foreigners want to know more about China.

Lineo Kobeli , an International relations specialist from Lesotho, and now pursuing a doctorate in education at Beijing Normal University.

During her seven years in China, she is increasingly understanding what makes China attractive to the world. In her view, China’s rapid technological innovation and increasingly open international environment have attracted more and more foreigners to come here.

Lineo says: “Places like Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province are now entrepreneurial hubs; they have a lot of startups and a good environment for startups. In Guangzhou, the entrepreneurial environment has become increasingly international, attracting more and more foreign talents and foreign investors. And I find that now foreign companies want to seek even more in China, they are hungry for Chinese expertise.”

The development of China’s digital economy has also brought more and more convenience to people who work and live here. Lino believes that: “The future of China’s digital economy is bright. Whether it’s digital governance or data management, it’s done well to make sure that people are always connected to their own health insurance, education, and all of that information, and that connection can facilitate people’s lives.”

She is also keen to seize the new opportunities of China’s digital economy development, and promote the cooperation between the Guangdong Chamber of Commerce in Africa and Chinese live e-commerce platforms to promote specialty products such as cocoa and coffee beans from Africa to Chinese consumers, building a bridge for Africa-China trade.

‘’We want to promote more African products through live e-commerce, and also want to let Africa know more Chinese brand products.” Says Lineo

China provides a lot of innovative opportunities and new experiences for young foreigners like herself, and coming to China will make people really think outside the box.

Joseph Mendo’s lessons in China – I have seen the impossible made possible

Joseph Mendo’s lessons in China – I have seen the impossible made possible

Joseph Mendo, a doctorate at the School of International Relations of Peking University, coming from Cameroon, and also president of the China Africa Youth Federation says since coming to China in January 2015, he now has a deeper understanding of China.

“If you want to understand a country or a society, you have to understand people, including the spirit of the place.” says Mendo.

I have gone to a total of 30 grassroots villages. I went to Xing County, Luliang City, and Shanxi Province, and learned about China’s poverty alleviation. I and other students from Peking University, have also shared what we have experienced in China with General Secretary Xi Jinping.

“You make the impossible possible”, which is what I saw in Ningxia, adds Mendo. Because Ningxia also has arid areas, and it relies on grapes for rural revitalization.

China supplies Nigeria with solar-powered traffic lights

China supplies Nigeria with solar-powered traffic lights

In the Nigerian capital Abuja, China will install solar-powered traffic light control signals at 98 intersections. This will be a second phase of the project according to media reports. The first phase was implemented in 2015.

The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun, said that the project is a great symbol of China-Nigeria friendship, the project symbolizes “a concrete embodiment of the implementation” of the nine programs of China-Africa cooperation. Ambassador Cui further noted that, “this project will bring a lot of relief to the transportation system of Abuja, will be useful to the country, and will equally impact positively on the social life of local residents.”

The permanent secretary of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration, Adesola Olusade,  said the construction comes at a time when the FCT was in dire need of having its major road intersections signalized for ease of traffic flow and and create order.

“The era of energy supply through solar is fast overtaking the age-long energy supply through the national grid, which is mostly unreliable. The solar-powered traffic light system in the FCT is just desirable at this moment,” Olusade added.

Abuja being one of the fastest-growing cities in the world with and a fast-growing population is facing pressure on city infrastructure, including trafficmanagement. “Today’s event, therefore, could not have come at a better time as we seek to ensure ease of traffic and orderliness on our roads through the provision of traffic control signals at major road intersections,” said Muhammad Musa Bello, minister of the FCT.

Author: Hanane Thamik is currently a Ph.D. scholar at the School of Information Management, Wuhan University, simultaneously a member of the Morocco-China Friendship Exchange Association, the author of China Today, the former author of CGTN Africa, Africa-China Review, and the Canadian magazine ( Etats de splendeur ). She was chosen as Morocco’s youth representative for the Belt and Road initiative by the Moroccan embassy in China, the Arab youth participant in the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum 2020, and the Ambassador of Wuhan City to the world by Changjiang Weekly Magazine, and the Moroccan Youth Representative 2020 (FOCAC, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs). She also won the awards of the Belt and Road Tourism ambassador 2019, the Outstanding African Student in China 2018, the Cultural Achievement Award by UNESCO, the Wuhan University Outstanding International Students award 2019 and 2021, the Maotai scholarship “Excellent academic performance and outstanding overall performance 2019 and 2021,” the outstanding individual among international students fighting novel coronavirus pneumonia 2020, the only Moroccan winner of the essay contest named “experience China -our anti-epidemic story” 2020 (China Scholarship Council), the Chinese Government Outstanding International Student in China 2020 ( China Scholarship Council ),  the winner of the 5th “My Beautiful Encounter with China” essay contest for international students in China, and recently the first prize of the competition of the 37th Chu Cai Composition Competition. She was one of the successful 54 young people worldwide who has been selected to participate in a training program organized by the United Nations in Switzerland in 2019. She has also more than 20 publications among them the United Nations Geneva 2019 report, Peking University 5000-mile reports 2020 and 2021 which were handed to high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Beijing, and her most recent SCI paper, “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Sustainable Development in Electronic Markets,” which received attention from many experts across the world and was posted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on its official website.