5 May 2014

Africa: Li's Four-Nation Visit Will Boost 'Concrete' Support

Photo: Herr Bert/Flickr
Chinese flag.

African leaders are pinning high hopes on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the continent, saying his eight-day tour will be a "game changer" for China-Africa ties.

"We are now hoping to see China and Africa work together to address issues of industrialization, infrastructure, employment and poverty eradication," said Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission.

All these are expected to be on the agenda during Li's four-nation visit to the continent.

Africa has benefited from the economic growth of China, and African countries are looking to greater cooperation to help address their challenges, said Mwencha.

He said China provided support through the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, and the AU and China were now looking at regional programs through which China can support the continent "in a very concrete manner".

During the last decade, Africa's economy has achieved success by building up capable governance and utilizing its natural and energy resources, he said.

In a talk in Nairobi with Liu Xianfa, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, on Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Li's visit is a game changer in terms of boosting bilateral relations.

Kenyatta said Africa requires a strong partner that will not only support it in economic ventures but also in promoting peace.

Mwencha also said that for Africa to achieve prosperity and development, peace and security are key issues that need to be addressed.

"China has been at the forefront of Sudan mediation and very supportive to our efforts to end this conflict. It has also supported those affected on the ground," he said. "China has also been supportive in the cases of Mali and Somalia, as well as the recovery and development of countries that have just emerged from conflict."

The AU expects China to play a bigger role in this respect by helping to address challenges on the ground, particularly in those countries already engaged in conflicts.

Africa also faces a huge challenge from unemployment, particularly among youth and women, and if China can successfully transfer its industries and manufacturing plants to Africa, the problem of job creation would be greatly eased, said Mwencha.

"Young people may be impatient so we have to make quick achievements and then long-term strategies," he said, adding that China has started engaging in both the long- and short-term goals of African countries.

Carrying out mega projects in infrastructure, railway, power and manufacturing, Chinese companies have boosted the fast growth of Ethiopia, said Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Saturday.

He also highlighted the importance of such high-level visits to further deepen existing relations and strengthen coordination on global issues.

Climate change, global system reform and terrorism are among the major global issues that the two countries need to work on closely to address, Desalegn stressed.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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