Africare News In Brief

 

Africa-China Forum

(left to right): Steve McDonald, Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, World Bank Managing Director Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., President of Africare, and Mel Foote of CFA at the Woodrow Wilson Center

On Friday, February 4, 2011, three Africa-focused organizations hosted a forum that explored the development, economic, and business issues at stake in the burgeoning relationship between Africa and China. In a keynote address, World Bank Managing Director Dr. Okonjo-Iweala stated that “there is no longer a debate as to whether China should be in Africa; it is there.” Instead, the question we should be asking is, “What should be the nature of the engagement of China in Africa?”

Africare’s President Dr. Darius Mans and International Affairs Advisor Ambassador Robin Sanders, along with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Director of Africa Programs Steve McDonald, and CFA President Melvin Foote, developed the Forum to have a more positive discussion about Africa and China, hear views from practitioners, and underscore ways for Africa, China, and the United States to work together in the best interest of the people of Africa.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa and panel member Florizelle Liser provided a clear direction of U.S. trade policy and trade statistics in Africa and highlighted China’s growing trade relationship with the Continent, but added that “trade cannot be seen in a vacuum.; it includes democracy and human rights.” Dr. Raymond Gilpin of the U.S. Institute for Peace noted that economic governance is equally important to keep an eye on in the extractive industries sectors and “really understand what economic expansion means for regional stability.” The Nature Conservancy’s External Affairs and Policy Director, Robert Tansey, launched its new Africa-China framework focused on harmonizing economic development and conservation efforts. Dr. Wenren Jiang, former Founding Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, provided insights into China’s perception of transparency, underscored that China is only at the beginning of its investment strategy in Africa, and stressed that China will change when it perceives that transparency is in its long term interest. He added that there should not be a presumption that China can be changed from the outside.

The Forum also focused on the way forward in key areas and whether the discussions about the Africa-China relationship should or should not include the United States. On steps to take in the future for Africa, former professor and political commentator Nii Akuetteh stressed that Africans need to decided for themselves what is the best model for the Continent, while Dr. David Shinn, Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s Elliot School, discussed whether African states wanted U.S. and China to collaborate on Africa. Others such as noted author Dr. Sharon Freeman stressed the importance of both Africa and China developing a strategy to address those at the bottom of the social-economic pyramid. Kuramo Capital Founder Wale Adeosun addressed how China’s engagement in Africa is helping African capital markets.

The event luncheon speaker was Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Africa at the State Department. Ambassador Yamamoto highlighted the ongoing dialogue on working together on Africa, and stressed that the “U.S. does not see China as an adversary, but an important player in the world.” He said the areas of difference were the U.S. approach to free trade, technology transfer, training, and more use of local workers. He informed the invited guests, including policy-makers, private sector representatives, civil society, non-governmental organizations, academics, and representatives of both the U.S. and African Governments, of the importance the U.S. places on its relationship with Africa, and underscored the key democracy elements of the Obama Administration’s policy towards Africa.

 

To view the video recording from this event, click here.

 

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(Updated January 2011)