A united Africa better for China-Africa negotiations, says University of Joburg’s David Monyae
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Pretoria – As African countries participate in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), this year hosted by the Republic of Senegal, international relations expert Dr David Monyae said African countries have not been able to take full advantage of China’s willingness to assist due to their lack of capabilities and institutional weaknesses.
In his speech at the virtual China-Africa Institute’s international conference on China-Africa cooperation titled “Opportunities and Challenges”, Monyae, who is director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg, said African countries should improve their business and investment environments in the quest to attract more Chinese business.
“Countries need stronger institutions and expertise to efficiently and effectively manage infrastructure projects,” said Monyae.
“Moreover, it is important for African countries to coordinate and speak with one voice to simplify the relations with China.”
Monyae said China’s unprecedented footprint across Africa had been met with “hostile players, especially in the West”.
“It is unfortunate that many western countries view China’s cooperation with Africa through a geopolitical lens. Western countries feel as if China’s cooperation with Africa is at their expense, and the Sino-African relationship is mis-characterised as a manifestation of China’s ‘colonial ambitions’ in Africa,” he said.
“Therefore, western powers will always use their power and influence to try and undermine the China-Africa relationship. Both parties should be prepared to debunk the western agenda.”
Monyae said under the auspices of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the relation between China and African states has grown in political, economic, and socio-cultural terms.
“As the relationship transcends to the next level, it faces new opportunities and challenges. The FOCAC has emerged as the lynchpin of the China-Africa relationship. As China and Africa undergo socio-economic transformations, the FOCAC will play an important role in formulating a common agenda,” said Monyae.
“Therefore, China and Africa should strengthen and consolidate the FOCAC mechanism. This will ensure consistent communication and coordination of the two parties’ interests and priorities.”
The summit was also addressed by panellists including Ambassador of Capo Verde to China Tania Romualdo; Zimbabwe’s former minister of ambassador to China Christopher Mutsvangwa; director of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs Ezzat Saad Elsayed; Professor Peter Kagwanja, president and chief executive of the Africa Policy Institute, Kenya; and Professor Charles Onunaiju, director of the Centre for China Studies, Nigeria who is also a member of the consultative committee of the China-Africa Institute (CAI).
President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week addressed the FOCAC summit, where he slammed the travel bans imposed on South Africa and fellow countries in the Southern Africa Development Community in reaction to the detection of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.