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At 11th China Africa Think Tanks Forum, experts applaud FOCAC, BRI on Africa infrastructure funding


Last week, it was a harvest of applause and appreciation of the journey of Africa-China relations as it affects the funding of infrastructure projects in Africa by Chinese agencies in the past years.

The summit of the China Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF) was held for the 11th time in China on July 21 and took a detailed look at the partnership of the two worlds through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) funding of projects that are making the right impacts in lifting Africa.

The event chaired by Mr. Zhong Yijun, Vice President of the Zhejiang Normal University focused on BRI and China-Africa Cooperation on Financing for Development in the continent.

Over 34 experts presented papers at the forum that hosted a large audience from China and Africa at the university and many others that joined via Zoom.

The targets of the papers were mainly on the diverse ways Chinese agencies on the platforms of the BRI and the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) have over the years been the backbone of financing for development projects in Africa.

Among the experts from Africa that presented papers was the Editor-in-Chief of the Africa China Economy Magazine, Lagos, Ikenna Emewu whose topic was on contributions and impacts of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in funding and development of transport and other economic infrastructure in Nigeria.

Other experts from Nigeria included Dr. Efem Ubi, Associate Professor and Acting Director of Research at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Lagos.

Also featured from Nigeria included Ms. Chinyere Almona, Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms. Diana Chen, a Chinese businesswoman in Nigeria, and Mrs. Yetunde Aina, the CEO and Creative Director of Jadeas Trust.

At the second session which was moderated by Dr. Ubi, another Nigerian, Michael Ehizuelen presented a paper also.

In his paper, Emewu took a detailed look at the several impacts the CCECC has made in almost unilaterally implementing Nigeria’s 25 years railway development policy that kicked in in 2002.

He explained how in five years the CCECC through the joint funding of the China EXIMBank has delivered 717km of railway to Nigeria and all of them in use, a feat that has contributed so much to easing transportation bottlenecks in Nigeria and contributing to the growth of the economy.

Emewu also looked beyond these projects to the ones still under construction such as the Lagos Blue and Red Lines metro railway that would soon be completed, the Ajaokuta-Abuja, Kaduna-Kano railway projects, and others.

Beyond Nigeria, he enumerated other infrastructure projects of Chinese companies in Malawi, Kenya, and many others and how those projects funded by Chinese agencies have redrawn the landscape of Africa and helped in lifting the economic possibilities of the continent.

He noted that: “Between 2007 and 2020, China’s two main overseas development banks invested US$23 billion in infrastructure projects on the African continent. This was reported by the Center for Global Development, a US think tank on February 9, 2022.

This amount was US$8b more than what the other global top eight lenders combined, including the World Bank, African Development Bank, and the US and European development banks, invested in the continent (Quartz Africa www.qz.com), said in a 2021 report.

From World Bank data, China has sustained for many years, its efforts in boosting the industrialisation of Africa and contributed an average of 12% to Africa’s industrial production or manufacturing. In Nigeria, it was rated at 9.2% in 2018.

“CCECC’s other infrastructure impacts include the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos so far valued at US$3.5b investment at expected 35% completion in 2024, according to the Managing Director of the holding company in April 2022

CCECC with 3 other Chinese partners – China Railway Construction Corporation; China Africa Development Fund (CADFund); Nanjing Jiangning Economic & Technology Development Corporation pulled an initial capital of CNY200m to register the company called China Africa Lekki Investment Limited (CALI) in March 2006 in Beijing.

That is what is spawning the LFTZ multiple economic benefits today that will become Africa’s largest industrial cluster on completion

Dangote Refinery alone within the LFTZ is valued at US$17b and has a Chinese financing backbone, to refine 650,000 barrels of crude/day. Sinoma, a Chinese multinational company is listed as the main construction company

Sinoma’s financing powers the Dangote Cement plants in 10 African countries apart from Nigeria.

It also has partnerships with Sinotruk in Jinan, Jiangsu Overseas Company, etc. At the LFTZ, Sinotruk has a vehicle assembly plant.”

In a message of appreciation to the participants drawn from African countries and China, the Director of the Institute of African Studies of the university, Prof. Liu Hongwu expressed his immense gratitude for the depth and rich intellectual harvest of the forum.

He also said it has been the cooperation and confidence of the participants in the forum that has sustained it to achieve towering goals over the years.


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