#Focac: The Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac) will be the first Focac summit to be held in Africa, and only the second one in the 15 years since the forum’s inception – the first being the historic 2006 Beijing Summit.
South Africa assumed the role as co-chair of Focac at the conclusion of the Fifth Focac Ministerial Conference in 2012, taking over from Egypt.
Our role as co-chair is for the period 2012 to 2018.
It is expected that African heads of state and government, representatives from the AU, and heads of regional organisations and multilateral organisations will participate in the summit.
It is envisaged that the Joburg summit will elevate the Africa-China relationship to a new level that would have a beneficial impact and give impetus to Africa’s developmental agenda.
Africa and China have forged strong economic relations, particularly since 2009 when China became the continent’s largest trading partner.
It is expected that the summit will adopt the Johannesburg Declaration and Action Plan, which will outline specific measures aimed at consolidating the growing mutual partnership between Africa and China.
The Focac platform is based on the principles of South-South co-operation and mutual and equal benefit, with a view to addressing various areas of concern for Africa’s socio-economic development and integration.
These include deepening co-operation in the areas of infrastructure development, debt relief, industrialisation, investment promotion, market-access expansion, agriculture, science and technology, health, education, and people-to-people cultural exchanges, among others.
It provides an opportunity to further stimulate growth and unlock new opportunities between China and Africa on trade and other matters.
South Africa’s overall medium- to long-term strategic objective with regard to Focac, as co-chair, is to work closely with China to ensure that future Focac declarations and action plans are effectively implemented in line with the AU’s Agenda for Regional and Continental Integration and Development, through its flagship programmes, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and Agenda 2063, including the First 10-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063.
Agenda 2063 envisions that in 50 years, Africa will be a world leader, setting the standard for inclusive economic development, democratic governance and a humane and just social order.
Some of the projects identified in the First 10-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 include the following:
* An integrated high-speed train network.
* The Great Inga Dam.
* A single African aviation market.
* Free movement of people and the African passport.
* The creation of a continental free trade area.
* Silencing the Guns by 2020.
President Jacob Zuma is the chairman of the Nepad Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI), through which he champions the North-South Road and Rail Development Corridor.
In this regard, South Africa will continue to work closely with the Chinese side in ensuring that these infrastructure development initiatives are successfully realised, as they will enhance intra-regional trade and attract trade and investment towards Africa.
As co-chair of Focac, South Africa will endeavour to ensure that the African Agenda is realised through the Focac partnership.
The specific aim would be to infuse Agenda 2063’s First 10-Year Implementation Plan into the objectives of Focac, specifically in supporting relevant African programmes aimed at:
* Eradicating poverty.
* Addressing inequalities of income and opportunity.
* Job creation, especially addressing youth unemployment.
* Improvement of habitats and access to water, sanitation and electricity.
* Providing social security and protection.
* Strengthening mechanisms for peace and reconciliation.
* Developing Africa’s human and social capital.
* Transforming Africa’s economies through beneficiation, industrialisation and value-addition.
* Exploiting the vast potential of Africa’s blue economy.
In our preparations for the summit, we have consulted with the co-host, the People’s Republic of China, as well as the African member states through diplomatic channels.
Preparations are in place and we are confident that the summit will succeed in its objective to elevate Africa-China relations and ensure mutual benefit and growth, which will result in the betterment of the lives of the people of Africa and China.
* Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation.
** The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Media.