Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and protectionism in the world, China and its partners, including African countries, will achieve mutually beneficial growth through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a Chinese envoy to Uganda has said.
“BRI aims to build a community with a shared future for mankind through extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” Zheng Zhuqiang, the Chinese ambassador to Uganda, said in a public lecture here on Thursday. “In doing so, the hope is to forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, and a new platform for globalization that creates new drivers for shared development,” he said. The lecture titled “The Belt and Road Initiative, Creating a Bright Future for the World” was held at Makerere University, Uganda’s top university and also one of Africa’s major research universities. The envoy said that although the BRI was proposed by China, it belongs to the world. By the end of March 2019, the Chinese government had signed 173 cooperation agreements with 125 countries and 29 international organizations, including over 40 African countries, he said.
China and African countries will achieve win-win results from the five connectivities in policy, infrastructure, trade, capital flows and understanding among peoples, Zheng said. Many African countries have embarked on massive infrastructure projects especially in the transport and energy sectors. Zheng said that infrastructure projects, such as railways, highways, bridges, ports and so on, have effectively improved the investment environment of African countries.
Chinese companies especially in the construction sector have offered technology and skills transfers, enabling youths in African countries who were employed on the projects to set up their own workshops.
In Uganda for instance, since 2016, over 2,000 Ugandans have attended China-aided training courses and seminars in China, according to the Chinese embassy. For the last three years, China has sponsored over 216 Ugandan students to study in China. Moreover, Chinese investments have boosted economic development in Africa. In 2014, China invested 40 billion U.S. dollars in setting up the Silk Road Fund and invested 100 billion dollars in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2016. In December 2015, during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit, China announced that it would further allocate 5 billion dollars to the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, respectively.
During the 2018 Beijing FOCAC summit, China announced that it would set up a 5-billion-dollar special fund for imports from Africa and would encourage Chinese companies to invest at least 10 billion dollars in Africa in the next three years. According to the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, until this year, the China-Africa Development Fund has invested more than 4.6 billion dollars in more than 90 projects in 36 African countries, covering infrastructure, capacity equipment, agriculture, people’s livelihood, energy and resource development and other fields.
Ezra Suruma, chancellor of Makerere University, underlined the importance of Chinese investments, noting that “no strings” are attached to them.