Aqdar Summit: Infrastructure gaps a severe impediment to development

By Lindiz van Zilla Time of article published Nov 28, 2018

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ABU DHABI - Significant infrastructure investment gaps are one of the major constrictors of investment, employment creation and the upliftment of economies, particularly among the least developed countries.

Speaking at the 2018 Aqdar summit on sustainable development taking place in the United Arab Emirates, Jiang Xiheng, Vice President at the China Center for International Knowledge on Development, said overcoming infrastructure bottlenecks is key to successful development.

"Significant infrastructure investment gaps, especially those least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing states, suffer severe infrastructure bottlenecks,"  she told the summit at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

"Overcoming infrastructure bottlenecks will bring about investments, jobs and improvement of people’s life."

She said China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) had during the past five years seen over 130 countries and international organisations sign MOUs or agreements. 

Jiang said China’s outward direct investment has amounted to over 70 billion US dollars, creating over 200,000 local jobs. In Africa, China had built four railways, with the Mombasa-Nairobi project alone created 50,000 jobs. 

She explained that BRI and the SDGs share many commonalities, including, both being committed to promoting economic growth and enhancing the well-being of nations.

"We know that SDGs could not be achieved by one country or a few countries, climate change, epidemic diseases and a lot of others are global challenges," said Jiang.

"As the second largest economy but still a developing country, China is willing to contribute to the SDGs globally within our capacity and in line with the principles of South-south cooperation."

She added that the BRI was proposed against the background that the underlying impact of the international financial crisis declining global trade and investment. 

"We believe that development needs opportunities, when the opportunities of economic globalisation were losing momentum, BRI was proposed to create new momentum and new opportunities for achieving shared development and prosperity based on a broad concept of connectivity, infrastructure, trade, investment and people’s exchanges. 

"It is an opportunity for China to further develop towards an all-round open economy with more balanced regional development between the western inland region and eastern coastal regions. It is also an opportunity for other countries to upgrade infrastructures, connectivity and industrial capacities for sustainable development."

Jiang added: "I also want to emphasise that BRI is not just about hard infrastructures for developing countries, but about innovation-driven development." 

She said President Xi Jinping had proposed at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last year a green silk road and digital silk road of the 21 st century, which needs intensified cooperation in digital economy, smart cities, renewable energies and other frontiers of the new industrial revolution.

The Aqdar Summit is an international platform that aims to develop sustainable societies, empower individuals and support important initiatives and awareness programmes that benefit communities across the globe. 

The summit calls for "Nourishing Minds, Flourishing Nations" and the theme this year is the "Role of Human Empowerment in Developing Stable Societies: Sustainable Development".

- African News Agency (ANA)

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