The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is deepening African nations' integration into the global economy and improving people's livelihoods, a Nairobi-based policy observer said.
The initiative, which helps countries develop economy-boosting infrastructure, has taken Africa further into a global community through investment, trade, financial integration, people-to-people exchanges, policy coordination and other forms of connectivity, said Lemmy Nyongesa, a senior associate fellow at the China Africa Center of the Africa Policy Institute in the Kenyan capital.
Nyongesa said the BRI has kept interactions between China and Africa active through people-to-people exchanges arising from the projects being undertaken. The sharing of ideas and resources has enhanced friendly relations between the peoples of the two regions, he added.
"The idea that development assistance can take place without interference in Africa's internal affairs is viewed positively,"Nyongesa said. "The BRI has ensured that Chinese and Africans learn from one another, and has helped the continent acquire technologies necessary for development, and provided the financial support necessary to implement critical infrastructural projects."
He said that while other continents have been reducing their infrastructural deficits, Africa's deficit has been growing. This has hurt economic growth and development, and poverty-eradication efforts in particular.
Since the continent does not have adequate capital and equipment to implement infrastructure projects at a rate necessary to reduce the gap, China has offered an opportunity for Africa to meet these objectives by providing finance, technology and other capital goods and services.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at a news conference on Sunday, said China will jointly push ahead with high-quality construction of the BRI and make contributions to the early recovery of the world economy from the coronavirus pandemic.
Helping African countries contain the pandemic and bring their economies back on track is the top priority of China-Africa cooperation, Wang said.
Nyongesa said Africa itself has a role to play in the BRI's success."The first one is the enhancement of its internal capabilities and capacity to fully utilize and maintain the projects without which it will have problems sustaining them both in the short and longer term," he said.
With China having declared its victory over poverty, Nyongesa said that expenditure on infrastructure in Africa is key to economic growth, development and poverty alleviation. Infrastructure projects implemented through the BRI create direct and indirect employment and boost businesses.
It is up to African governments to learn from China's poverty-eradication policies to systematically reduce the number of people living under the poverty line, Nyongesa said.
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