China-Africa cooperation built on respect, brings tangible benefits to people across African continent – expert

China-Africa cooperation has brought tangible benefits to people across the African continent, while African countries are looking to learn from the development achievements of the Communist Party of China (CPC), according to the head of a leading African think tank.

Peter Kagwanja, president of the Nairobi-based pan-African think-tank Africa Policy Institute, hailed the strength of cooperation which exists between China and Africa. He said that African countries often suffered unequal treatment in their past dealings with the West which stands in stark contrast to their cooperation with China, where the African people have received great respect.

“My major concern or focus has been the quality of the cooperation in terms of respect between civilizations, respect between peoples and mutual benefit of this kind of cooperation. The policy understanding, the humanization over the way we as Africans think and the way China thinks and that is important because China is not dominating us. China does not tell us what to do. And then we sit down and negotiate and discuss as partners, and then we agree,” he said.

Kagwanja also noted how the Belt and Road Initiative has not only brought huge development dividends to Africa, but has also contributed to China-Africa cooperation and brought mutual benefits. He cited the Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which opened in 2017, as being a case in point.

“Second, within the Belt and Road Initiative, we get good funding. The Mombasa-Nairobi (Standard Gauge) Railway opened our countries, our country Kenya, and we have started to see industrialization growing around there, business growing along the railway. We have already started a land-based port in Naivasha, and a lot of industrial opportunities are beginning to rise. The third one is that now we’re going to be linked to Ethiopia and to be linked to South Sudan, and deep into the Central African Republic. That is what Africa has been waiting for – the connectivity between countries so that we can have trade amongst ourselves,” he continued.

As an expert on China-Africa relations, Kagwanja has visited China many times, and has witnessed how China has made great development achievements particularly over the last decade under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

“I came to identify with the concept of ecological civilization. This is a conscious effort and a dedication by the Chinese government to deal with climate change and to deal with questions of environmental pollution and so on. We are able to balance between development and the sustainability of our environment. And that impressed me a lot. The Chinese Communist Party has maintained peace within China and peace with neighbors. Then it’s able to invest in all the money that it has made in eradicating poverty, and that’s why China was able to at least remove extreme poverty,” he said.

Kagwanja said the CPC is a party that puts people first, and says many leaders and observers will be paying close attention to the latest policies of the CPC, especially at the Party’s upcoming 20th National Congress, which gets underway in Beijing on Sunday.

“I think we’re wasting our time as Africans debating Western ideas rather than looking at what we need as a people. We need people who are committed to the development of our people. And that is what we see in the Chinese Communist Party. It is committed to the development of the Chinese people, and it is developing the Chinese people. So I think we’ll be watching developments within the Chinese Communist Party congress to see what lessons we can learn from that,” said Kagwanja.

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