Ethiopia and fellow African countries have benefited a lot from Chinese engagement amid their crucial need to replicate China’s success across socioeconomic development arenas, an Ethiopian scholar said on Monday.
“Ethiopia has benefited from Chinese investments, grants and loans. It has built 74,000-km of all-weather roads, rail lines, hydropower stations, and transmission lines, it is also building 11 industrial parks to name a few and met the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic adviser to the African Union (AU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Monday.
According to the scholar, China is the single largest bilateral financier of infrastructure in Africa, exceeding the combined total of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union, International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank and the Group of Eight (G8) countries.
“China has funneled cash and loans into infrastructure projects across the continent, where many African leaders consider Beijing’s terms a better deal than those offered by Western nations,” Costantinos said.
“This (the achievement of African countries from their engagement with China) is a great stride towards structural transformation,” he added, as he highlighted some of the areas in particular that merit attention from Ethiopian authorities in replicating China’s success including “focus on excellence and not just quantity and cost such as the mobile revolution in China where they have overtaken iPhone’s hegemony.”
“It is about engaging more local human endowment in Ethiopia by using the vast number of graduates from universities and vocational schools,” he said, adding “it is also about greater capacity building of local competences of those graduates.”
The scholar, indicating the notable contrast between China’s rapid economic growth and Sub-Saharan Africa’s volatile economic growth in the modern global economic history, also emphasized the positive advantage for African countries to replicate China’s experience in terms of building sustainable economic growth.
“As the engagement between the two (China and African countries) continues to grow, there will be a greater cross-fertilization of experiences,” Costantinos asserted.
The scholar, citing a recent World Bank report, also argued that “the political economy of Chinese reforms and the shared gains between political elites and the private sector can be partially transplanted into the Ethiopian context.”
“China has experimented with a degree of decentralization that could yield benefits for many Sub-Saharan Ethiopian countries,” he added.
Noting China’s port governance as “exemplary,” Costantinos also stressed that “Ethiopia can benefit significantly from port reform in Ethiopia’s neighboring coastal countries such as Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan.”
Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, further stressed that the East African country can learn from China’s policies as well as China’s experiences and conduct developmental experiments for poverty alleviation goals.
According to the expert, the exchange of visits between Ethiopian and Chinese officials over the past few years would further strengthen the fast-growing bilateral ties among the two countries.
“As the Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed said the visit by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Ethiopia just at the beginning of the new year (on Jan. 3, 2019) bears testimony to the point that China is a true friend of Ethiopian and African people,” Costantinos said. Enditem