The China-Africa forum, therefore, is not
just about the "three bottlenecks." There is one issue that
many nations, regardless of their geographic location, must all
address: how can the international community limit, and where
possible fix, the damage we have done to our planet?
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Erik Solheim, the
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP), said he hoped the meeting would result in "win-win
solutions where Africa can learn from Chinese experience on fast
development and also how China is turning around to be an
This poignant fact was also underscored by the President of
Rwanda Paul Kagame in another recent interview with Xinhua.
"The distance between China and Africa doesn’t matter [...]
at the end of the day we are all driven by the same aspirations.
"We want development.
"We want stability.
"We want to make sure the environment we are in is taken care
of," he said.
Closeness is about more than distance, and shared values and
aspirations make us stronger.
The members of FOCAC are united by being beneficiaries of two
over-arching programs—on the one hand is China’s Belt and Road
Initiative, which aims to achieve common development through
improved infrastructure and connectivity.
On the other hand is the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a
strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the
This year’s summit is not just about the China-Africa
community with a shared future. Increased China-Africa
cooperation has worldwide implications.
By the end of 2017, China had invested 100 billion U.S.
dollars in Africa. Projects include the Nairobi-Mombasa standard
gauge railway in Kenya and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway.
In fact, the railways and highways that have been built
across Africa by Chinese firms are long enough, if connected, to
stretch from China to Rwanda.
Co-operation is not just about concrete and glass.
There is also the question of how to bring the peoples of
different cultures closer together.
This can be achieved through knowledge sharing and cultural
To this end, more than 160,000 people from Africa have
received training under China-Africa programs since the
Johannesburg summit in 2015, and over 200 schools had been built
by the end of 2015.
There are now 54 Confucius Institutes in 41 African countries
since the first one in Africa opened in Nairobi in 2006.
In Tanzania, the University of Dar es Salaam’s China Culture
Center is celebrated for the work it does to support cultural
It achieves this through events that promote China, and
showcase the opportunities available—from martial arts, Mandarin
classes, to demonstrations on Chinese tea ceremonies.
Today, Chinese culture is celebrated not only through a love
for language, but also through traditions and kinship.
Promises and proposals, however, need funding. Here, too,
China has offered a hand.
The China-Africa Development Fund was set up in 2007
following the 2006 FOCAC Beijing summit.
It has, so far, decided to invest more than 4.6 billion
dollars in over 90 projects in 36 African countries.
It is estimated that more than 8.7 million people on the
African continent will benefit from investment channelled
through these projects.
China will extend a total of 60 billion dollars of financing
to Africa, President Xi announced Monday at the opening ceremony
of the FOCAC Beijing summit.
The financing will be provided in the form of government
assistance as well as investment and financing by financial
institutions and companies.
The summit has the potential to make real differences to
topics—growth, welfare, environment—that have prominence outside
the FOCAC member states.
China has already entered into a new stage of social and
Is Africa, too, ready to embark on a similar path?