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Sino-Africa, honeymoon in the coming decade

Sino-Africa, honeymoon in the coming decade thumbnail

The Conference of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which came to an end few days ago, is the most important event in the political calendar of the China.  Normally, this is the moment when state officials present their reports on the work of government to members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.  It is like State Opening of Parliament for us in Sierra Leone. 2012 marked the Fifth Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. It was a very colorful ceremony, I must attest.  (Photo: John Baimba Sesay, IA, China)

Wen Jiabao is the Premier of the State Council.  He delivered a report on the work of the government on the 5th of March 2012 at the Great Hall of the People, at the initial stages of the Fifth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress. He used the ceremony to speak on a number of issues, ranging from the country’s GDP, which he said, reached 47.2 trillion Yuan, reflecting an increase of 9.2% over the previous year, with government revenue of 10.37 trillion Yuan, to major tasks for government in 2012.

Paul Minah, pushing Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Change in China

Accomplishments of government were also highlighted, including; but not limited to strengthening and improving macro-control, preventing fast price rises and achieving steady and robust economic development;  ensuring and improving the people’s wellbeing and solving problems that affect their interests; developing social services and promoting balanced economic and social development; and deepening reform and opening up and injecting new vitality and impetus into economic and social development, among other areas.

Traditional friendship:

The issue of traditional friendship was also looked at by the Premier, when he said, “we will enhance unity and cooperation with other developing  countries, deepen traditional friendships, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, help  achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, and uphold the legitimate rights and interest as well as the common interests of developing countries…”{page 28-29 of Report On The Work Of Government… delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao on 5th March 2012 at the Great Hall of the People}.

Win-win cooperation:

China’s interest in investing in developing countries cannot be overstated. The trust of the country in the principle of win-win cooperation has also helped in putting the nation today at its present status from an international development perspective. Quoted in the March 9-15th edition of Asia Weekly version of ChinaDaily, China’s Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi spoke of his country’s conviction, that all countries should be able to embrace win-win cooperation…that whilst pursuing one’s interests, one also needs to take into account the interests of other countries

Africa, in terms of China’s desire to support developing countries has taken a centre stage in recent decades. By 2011 alone, trade between China and Africa reportedly reached $160 billion…while African exports to China increased by one-third during the same period, up from $67 billion in 2010 to $93 billion (page 17 of the business version of ChinaDaily, dated 16th March 2012). Craig Bond, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group Ltd, thinks that the Sino-Africa cooperation will move beyond political expediency to a point where it will be driven by “Africa needing China and China needing Africa” and this, he believes, will be a good basis on which to build trust and expand cooperation- (page 17 of the business version of ChinaDaily, dated 16th March 2012).

We cannot overstate the fact that Africa, being a developing continent would definitely be in constant need of China to help with the continent’s infrastructural development. Also with abundant resources in Africa, China will also be in need of the continent for its resources and to help, as right put by Craig Bond, “improve the quality of life, opportunities and wealth of its people…” China’s continue commitment to invest in Africa has got the greatest attention to the point, that transactional products and services of Standard Advisory, (China) Ltd, a subsidiary of Standard Bank in China, has expressed its intention of a Chinese team to provide “financial services in 17 African countries…” (Shen Lei, Deputy General Manager-quoted by the business version of ChinaDaily newspaper, dated 16th March 2012).

Sierra Leone’s position:

 Sierra Leone has continued to enjoy outstanding relations with China since the early 1970s. We have continued to receive Chinese investment in the country and this has been encouraging, taking into account our efforts to rebuild and  move in line with the Agenda for Change, that is been spearheaded by the government. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has been a good medium through which Sierra Leone and other African countries have continued to receive support from China.  Sierra Leone has signed a $ 1.2 billion land investment project with China Hainan Natural Rubber Group. This is s meant for the development of a 35,000 hectare rubber plantation and the cultivation of a rice firm. This is good news for the country’s agriculture sector.

China’s investment in Sierra Leone is fully appreciated by the country. Henan Gouji Industry and Development which has the Sierra Leone Gouji Industry and Trade Zone, China National Complete Plant Import & Export Corporation, Beijing Urban Construction Group, HYDROCHINA CORPORATION and host of others are today investing in the country, because the needed environment has been provided for them by government. With these and many others, I hold the view that Sierra Leone looks forward to exploring more investments in areas like agriculture, fisheries, energy and power and infrastructure.

Embassy’s effort:

The government has placed its priorities right through the ‘Agenda for Change’ and it looks at priorities areas like agriculture, energy, infrastructure, health and education. The country has continued to make steady progress in all of these areas.

We will, as an Embassy continues with the effort marketing these investment platforms to potential investors. The Embassy will continue to provide Chinese people/investors with information on areas for potential investment in Sierra Leone, in line with government’s determination to develop the country. In recent times, we have seen how Chinese companies have expressed interest in investing in Sierra Leone with International Business Civilized Development Association (IBCDA) and StarTimes Communication Network Technology being the latest. StarTimes has expressed interest to invest in the newly transformed Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation in the area of Digital television.

Honeymoon period:

The next decade will surely be a honeymoon period for both China and Africa. This is not just because of what China is offering the continent at present but also because even Standard Bank Group Ltd, which, according to Chinese media report, is Africa’s leading lender by assets, has also spoken of this honeymoon in terms of cooperation and investment.  And Sierra Leone won’t be left behind. I am certain.

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