Kenyan scholar says China's Silk Road to power Africa's industrial progress
16 November 2015, 21:29
Nairobi - The 21st Maritime Silk Road
envisioned by Chinese leaders will not only foster Sino-Africa bilateral trade,
but also fuel industrialization in the world's second largest continent, a
Kenyan scholar said on Sunday.
Peter Kagwanja, the CEO of the Nairobi-based Pan African
think-tank Africa Policy Institute, said China's Silk Road would herald
prosperity and renewal in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The distinguished scholar noted in a commentary published by
a local daily the Sunday Nation that the 21st century maritime Silk Road will
spur socio-economic benefits in Africa.
"China's new African development strategy is part of
the grand 'Silk Road Economic Belt' and the '21st century Maritime Silk Road'
framework revealed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013,"said Kagwanja.
The expert said the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will
revitalize trade in goods and services among countries sharing the Indian Ocean
and Pacific Rim.
"Beijing is pushing this strategy to enable it to take
a bigger role in global affairs and to export its production capacity in areas
such as steel manufacturing with the potential of accelerating the
industrialization of countries within the 'Silk Road' ambit," Kagwanja
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Historically the Silk Road is an ancient network of trade
and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction
through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by
merchants from China to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.
Kagwanja noted that China's Silk Road will be part of
discussions at the upcoming Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to be
held in South Africa on December 4 and 5.
China-funded infrastructure projects in Kenya that includes
the Lamu port and the Standard Gauge Railway are a critical component of the
21st century maritime Silk Road.
Kagwanja said completion of the mega infrastructure projects
will enhance Sino-Kenya trade ties.
"Kenya will firmly be part of the 21st century maritime
silk road after the completion of Standard Gauge Railway and refurbishing of
Lamu and Mombasa ports," said Kagwanja.
He said Beijing will play a critical role in realization of
Africa's industrialization dream alongside the new UN sustainable development
Kagwanja noted the FOCAC summit to be held next month will
explore ways to deepen Sino-Africa industrial cooperation.
"Chinese economic role has been a game-changer in
Africa's economic processes and in the last decades, the continent's economy
has grown steadily at an estimated rate of 5.8 percent in 2012 and is projected
to grow by 5 percent by 2016," Kagwanja said.
He added the high-level summit will offer an opportunity for
China to reframe its bilateral ties with Africa in strategic areas like trade,
industry, agriculture and infrastructure development.
"The coming FOCAC forum provides China with an
opportune moment to take a paradigm shift and deepen its cooperation with
African states," Kagwanja said.
The maritime Silk Road will facilitate Sino-Africa
people-to-people interactions that are crucial to promote understanding and
respect among people from different cultures.
Kagwanja stated the 21st century maritime Silk Road will revive
ancient networks of trade and cultural transmission routes that linked China
and the rest of the world.
He said China has not only become Africa's largest trading
partner but is currently a leading source of soft loans to finance the
continent's infrastructure projects.
Kagwanja noted that China's investments in Africa have
fuelled the continent's current economic boom.
"Today, an estimated 800 Chinese corporations are doing
business in Africa. These are mainly private companies investing in the continent's
infrastructure, energy and banking sectors," said Kagwanja.
He stressed that Chinese technology and low-cost finance
will be critical to help catalyze industrial growth in Africa.