Seek commercial ties with China—NEPAD boss

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NDAMU SANDU

Africa’s relationship with China should not be a romantic one but a commercial transaction that drives industrialisation on the continent and creates jobs, CEO of NEPAD Agency Ibrahim Mayaki has said.

China has been touted as Africa’s all-weather partner after the Asian giant adopted the governance neutral approach at a time their Western counterparts have been keenly following developments around democracy and human rights.

But Mayaki said the relationship should be based on Africa’s interests.

“This is not a romantic relationship. It’s a commercial relationship. It’s not about we love them, they love us. No. it has to be based on our interests. If we don’t know what our interests are, we cannot define a common interest. We need to know what our interests are, fundamentally to protect and to create the jobs of 400 million of young guys,” Mayaki told journalists on Tuesday, on the sidelines of an infrastructure summit in Victoria Falls.

“China should help us industrialise. We shouldn’t be a dumping ground of Chinese products, medicines. China has to transfer the necessary skills that can help Africa industrialise. It’s not them bringing the products but helping us industrialise like Japan did for them. When you see a television set, Panasonic and Mitsubishi—Japanese brand and you go behind it and see “Made in China”.  We want to see a Huawei
cellphone and behind it written “Made in Africa”.

In September, African leaders trooped to Beijing for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit where the world’s second largest economy pledged $60 billion to Africa in the form of assistance, investment and loans.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told the FOCAC meeting his country does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and will not impose its own will on Africa.

Critics say African countries have become a dumping group for cheap, substandard Chinese products thereby killing local industries.

Harare looked East at the turn of the millennium after falling out of favour with erstwhile Western allies over governance issues and human rights violations. There has been concerns that the deals between China and African countries have been lopsided and in favour of the Asian giant.

In 2014, former President Robert Mugabe visited China where nine mega deals were signed. The Chinese President visited Zimbabwe a year later to cement bilateral relations.

China funded the $533 million expansion of the Kariba South hydroelectric project. It also funded the $150 million expansion of the Victoria Falls Airport and will also finance the expansion of the Robert Mugabe International Airport.