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Belt and Road seen as best partnership tool

By Edith Mutethya | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-23 10:31
Locals work at a ceramic floor tile factory, established jointly by two Chinese companies, Keda Clean Energy Co and SenDa, in Kenya. Sun Ruibao / Xinhua

As Africa and China look forward to deepening their relationship to one that is equitable and beneficial for both partners, the Belt and Road Initiative has been recognized as one of the best tools for achieving that.

During the recently held China-Africa Investment Forum, high-level Chinese and African economic decisionmakers and business leaders called upon African countries that have not yet joined the initiative to consider doing so.

They said the initiative presents a unique opportunity to accelerate Chinese investments on the continent and is expected to help African countries to improve their infrastructure, one of the vital components of economic growth.

Moulay Elalamy, the Moroccan minister of industry, investment, trade and digital economy, says the infrastructure projects financed by China through the Belt and Road Initiative will make it possible to better connect African countries, especially those without a coastline.

The initiative will also help in opening up new Sino-African and intra-African trade opportunities, he says.

"The Belt and Road Initiative should radically change Africa's participation in global trade as well as act as a catalyst for the industrial transformation of the continent," Elalamy says.

Mohammed Basli, the Tunisian ambassador to Morocco, says the initiative has brought connections between people as well as better understanding.

"The initiative has ... bridged the gap that has existed between the East and the West. The best thing is that China has opened itself up to understand the rest of the world. The initiative seeks to gather people together with the common goal of prosperity. We are on the same road, and China is the security belt," he says.

Jean-Claude Brou, Cote d'Ivoire's minister of industry and mines, says the initiative will reinforce connectivity and growth, in addition to promoting employment growth.

"I believe the initiative will be an important element to sum up the required transformation and investment in the value chain as well as in innovation and technology," he says.

Karim Tazi, president of the Moroccan Textile and Clothing Industry Association, says, "Countries located in the economic belt area will be able to benefit from trade relations by establishing the necessary infrastructure and sales board networks, which will have a beneficial effect on development of intratrade and joint investment."

However, Elalamy says the expected benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative will be achieved if the funds allocated to the initiative are invested in industrialization projects and if Africa takes control of its industrial future and deploys appropriate strategies.

Abdu Mukhtar, the African Development Bank's director of industrial and trade development in the private sector, also says Africa should have a strategy for China.

"Africa has many think tanks that claim to be experts on China, so it is important to have a platform to bring them together so that they can clearly articulate what Africa really needs from the Chinese government and private investors in the next five years," he says.

Othman Benjelloun, the CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa Group and chairman of FinanceCom in Morocco, says Belt and Road projects should approach Africa as a whole, since the continent presents many opportunities.

David You, vice-president of the international system business unit at Trina Solar Ltd in China, says his country's approach through the initiative is to make friends around the world.

"The objective of the Belt and Road Initiative is to create a platform for global economic cooperation," he says.



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