This is the new terrain, a new game plan and Africans need to rise to the occasion so they can build the continent that they want.
This was the reaction by Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, yesterday soon after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion (R860bn) towards the continent’s social and economic development.
Xi said yesterday, on the first day of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac) in Sandton, that he was convinced that African people were embracing a new era.
“China and Africa share a common future. We have always supported each other in trying times,” he said.
“China has strong commitment to supporting Africa’s development. We are facing an unprecedented opportunity for development.”
Radebe said he was very positive about China-Africa relations at a very high level and it augured well also for South Africa’s National Development Plan vision as well as Africa’s Agenda 2063 goals.
“I think the amount of money that China is ploughing into Africa, which was announced today by President Xi, is reflective of the kind of relationship that exists between China and Africa,” he said.
“We are hoping that young people will take advantage of all these opportunities that are being given to them so that they get education, skills, entrepreneurship not only to get jobs but be job creators themselves.”
Radebe said this was the time for Africa to rise in the global stakes and claim its position. He said contrary to some reports that China was only interested in manufacturing and natural resources of the continent, it was instead focusing on advanced manufacturing.
Radebe said already in South Africa there was a 10-year strategic partnership with China which was signed during President Jacob Zuma’s state visit there last year.
“There are a lot of projects that China will be involved in South Africa, including the oceans, economy, infrastructure projects, not only in South Africa but on the continent.
“So I think Africans must grab this opportunity with both hands because it comes once in a lifetime.”
Zuma said measures announced by Xi took the partnership between Africa and China to its highest levels since the inception of Focac.
He said Africa’s relations with China were different from any other relations the continent has had.
“It was only natural that Africa has developed a win-win partnership for development and progress with China over the years,” he said.
“The partnership encompasses a number of areas, including agriculture, renewable energy, skills training, health peace and security and infrastructure development.”
Zuma said already the partnership was yielding economic results with China becoming Africa’s largest trade partner and Africa being one of China’s major import sources and fourth-largest investment destination.
“This partnership can only yield further results for Africa’s partnership. However we meet during a difficult global economic crisis,” he added. “This affects both our trade outlook as well as investment to our continent. This period therefore calls for innovation and resilience to make our economies survive the global meltdown. There is still hope for Africa despite the global economic downturn.”
Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, China’s special representative on Africa Affairs, said after 30 years of rapid develop- ment China had entered a new stage.
He said generally-speaking most African countries had been lagging behind and one of the main reasons for this was colonialism.
“In recent years rapid development of Africa has become very distinctive. If we take a look at the speech by President Xi, it serves as a guideline for long-term development of both sides,” he said.
“Our plans will benefit all African countries, but we will follow up with more specifics on the projects.”