FOCAC 2018: African and Chinese Leaders’ Parley

In September this year, the much-expected summit of African leaders and their Chinese counterparts will hold in Beijing, China. The key objectives of the conference will revolve around equal consultation, enhancing, understanding, expanding consensus, strengthening friendship and promoting cooperation between African countries and China.

The conference which will take place under the auspices of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will have in attendance the presidents and heads of African governments including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. Their meeting with their Chinese counterparts will be preceded by a ministerial parley, and Nigeria is expected to play a major role in all the deliberations. The summit will have in attendance the 53 African countries that currently maintain diplomatic relations with China.

It is common knowledge that China has been making a foray into the various sectors of African countries, and the relationship has been a win-win for both partners. As a matter of fact, the cooperation between China and Africa has brought many advantages to African countries, as most of them are benefitting from the technological know-how and magnanimity of the Chinese government and companies.

This is aptly demonstrated in the numerous financial facilities they usually make available for various development projects in African countries. For instance, the comatose railways system in some African countries have been revitalised and are running based on the intervention and support of the Chinese government. Even road projects are receiving attention across African countries, and this is made possible through the low interest loans provided by the Chinese government through the China-Exim Bank.

The forum which came into existence in 2000 will once again be hosted in Beijing, China, in September this year and this will mark its 18th anniversary. Basically it will focus on development areas like infrastructure, agriculture, health, poverty alleviation, trade and investment, cultural exchanges, peace and security.

Statistics have shown that the trade volume between China and Africa has risen from US $10.6 billion to $170 billion between year 2000 and 2017. According to the consular-general of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Chao Xi, China’s outward foreign direct Investment stock in Africa has also grown from US $500 million to about $41 billion over the same period.

FOCAC 2018 is coming three years after it held in Johannesburg, South Africa. While most of the resolutions emanating from the 2015 conference are being implemented, the upcoming FOCAC summit will be used to consolidate on the aims and objectives of the forum. It will also chart a new direction and focus for Africa and China, taking into consideration recent developments across the globe.

In specific terms, Nigeria and China have formed workable partnerships centered on development in various sectors. While China has outlined a two-stage development plan running from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century, Nigeria has enunciated an ambitious Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and Vision 20: 2020. So there seems to be a convergence of economic and development plans between both countries, and China has been very magnanimous in availing Nigeria and Africa as a whole with their own technological know-how and other models or templates of development.

China, reputed to be the world’s fastest-growing economy and the most populous, is forging a strategic partnership with Africa to achieve what President Xi Jinping proposed as ” Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) which will align with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda, as well as several development strategies of participating countries such as Nigeria’s ERGP.

-By  Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP), Abuja-based journalist

Email: [email protected]

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