Executive Intelligence Review


FOCAC Update: More Bilaterals, Deals and Momentum in Africa-China Cooperation

Sept. 6, 2018 (EIRNS)—The African press continues to give broad coverage to the Forum on China Africa Cooperation, reporting on the bilateral meetings, economic agreements and the momentum FOCAC has created and which is already being felt in Africa.

The government-linked Chronicle of Zimbabwe published an editorial entitled “Sino-Africa Relations To Scale New Heights after FOCAC.” After disproving the lie that China is forcing Africa into a debt trap, they write,

“However, contrary to this assertion, China’s assistance to Africa is actually yielding tangible results, and instead of trapping African economies in debt, China-Africa co-operation under the framework of China’s Belt and Road Initiative is intended to target the continent’s major development bottlenecks so as to realize tangible benefits for both peoples.... On a continent where more than 600 million people still have no access to electricity, 40% of the Chinese loans go for power generation and transmission. Another 30% seek to modernize Africa’s transport infrastructure.”

Gambia’s attendance marked its officially becoming a member of FOCAC. In an official statement, President Adama Barrow has said that Gambia’s membership will help the country attain the goals of the National Development Plan (2018-2021).

Zambian President Edgar Lungu and team of ministers negotiated trade and economic deals that would contribute to the completion of the country’s Seventh National Development Plan. Some of the agreements and MOUs that have been signed included a $30 million grant for the Lusaka East Multi-Facility Economic Zone and another $30 million interest-free loan for the reconstruction of Mulungushi Conference Center, in readiness for the African Union heads of state summit in 2022.

FOCAC has furthered the transformation of the Horn of Africa, which is rapidly moving from being a region of poverty, terror, piracy and migration, to becoming a region of economic development on the New Silk Road.

This process was initiated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who normalized Ethiopia’s relations with Eritrea in June.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met for talks with Abiy in Beijing on Sept. 3, at which he stated Ethiopia is an important partner of China in Africa, and took note of the China-Ethiopia comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. Prime Minister Li also said China and Ethiopia will expand human resources development and cooperation, and promote construction of transportation infrastructure and supporting projects.

The Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo—whose nation is also on the Horn of Africa—in his address to the forum gave fulsome praise to the role China is playing in the development of Africa through the Belt and Road Initiative. As for Somalia, he said that the fact that China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty “holds lessons for Somalia.” He stated:

“Somalia’s coastline has historically been key to facilitating trade between China, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Now, with the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and our reserves of untapped resources, Somalia has the potential of becoming a driving force for regional connectivity and prosperity.”

The day after returning from Beijing, Abiy and Farmajo arrived in Asmara, Eritrea for a tripartite summit with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. Until only weeks ago, the three countries were experiencing tense relations, and this was the first summit of all three leaders. They agreed to initiate dialogue to resolve a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh attended the FOCAC summit.

On the sidelines of the FOCAC, the Egyptian state-owned Banque Misr announced that it had signed a deal Sept. 5, to establish a Chinese-African consortium of banks between the China Development Bank and 15 African financial institutions. According to Egypt’s state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA), the deal was signed by chairman of Banque Misr Mohamed el Etreby, and “comes as a result of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held on Monday and Tuesday.”