13 September 2017

Liberia: AU Chairman Opting for More Deepening Cooperation With China

Ningxia — As the People's Republic of China accrues economic and development growth and lead new global development initiatives, the President of the Republic of Guinea is optimistic of the implications of incessant cooperation between Africa and the Asian nation.

President Alpha Conde, who currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union (AU), is confident that Beijing would think about Africa in its development plans and its financial institutions would also help Africa's development.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is moving from strength to strength since its inception in 2012 following the first summit in Beijing.

And the 2015 forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa enhanced cooperation in economic, trade and people to people exchange between 50 African countries and China when President Xi Jinping promised a US$60 billion development aid package to the continent.

But President Conde, who recently attended two separate international economic cooperation events hosted by China, told African journalists that Africa's challenge is managing the aid.

"Our major challenge is making use of all what is offered and ensuring that promises are fulfilled. Fortunately for us, China always keeps its promises," he said.

He said Western countries have also made some progress concerning pledges to help Africa tackle its problems, but expressed discontent in the lack of support from Africans.

"The problem with the African Union is that many people on the continent do not identify with it."

"Of what use is an institution in which the people have no sense of belonging? We want the people to identify with the AU, especially youth and women," the AU assembly chair said.

He praised China for using agriculture to help lift millions of its people out of poverty, and expressed optimism about Africa's own economic potential.

"Africa is now weakening up and it is on a track of progress and development," he said. "Our cooperation with China covers wide range of issues including agriculture, education and improvement of industrial chain".

With a growing population of people who are under 30 years, he said if African countries make good use of industrial policies young people who have enthusiasm and innovation would make use of the economic development of the continent.

President Conde attended the 9th summit of BRICS nations held in Xiamen, Fujian Province from September 3 - 5, as the bloc opts to add a new dimension through its BRICS Plus strategy and Xi said the Guinean leader presence helped enhanced international development discussion.

"The Belt and Road is a major financial and infrastructure plan to become even stronger and Africa need to continue to carry structure reform and adopt to investment needs of the world and only economic globalization which can bring progress to African countries," Conde said at the opening of the China-Arab Expo on September 6.

BRICS, which comprises of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, make up 50 percent of the global economic growth, 23 percent of the world's economy and a comprehensive GDP of US$6.78 trillion.

At the BRICS summit, China and Guinea held talks on strengthening cooperation on peace and security, while Xi told the Guinea President that his country is ready to support the west African nation's capability building in security, stability and law enforcement.

The two leaders also signed cooperative agreements on economy, technology, climate change and medical care.

In Yichuan city, northwest China, Conde then led discussions during the China-Arab Expo to lure more Chinese investments to his country.

He said China's development path also benefits African countries and the continent is looking forward to more cooperation based on "great economic complimentary, share vision and unity", which he said are important for success.

Government officials of Mauritania and Egypt attending the Expo also highlighted the significance of trade cooperation with China.

Terek Qabil, Egypt's Minister of Industry and Trade said "China has been leading the way for the progress of the developing world by encouraging its companies to go global."

Qabil wants Egypt to serve as "an important spring board" for China to extend trade cooperation and investments to many African countries.

"China has an important strength, attracts attention of the world and Egypt deserves China's investment - being an important economy in Africa," he said.

Mohamed Yahya Elkherchi, Vice President of Mauritania National Assembly, said the China-Arab Expo is a platform, which leads to the establishment of free trade zones that may also boost investment opportunities in West and North Africa.

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