Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Africa needs to develop synergy of global partners for best interests

Thika road in Kenya.Picture by Xinhua
By Rahul Venkit
Aug. 21 (Xinhua) --Africa needs to develop a synergy between global partners to serve its own best interests if it is to become a more significant player in world economy, analysts have said.

Commenting on the recent remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her African tour, the experts say little can be achieved by pitting the Western and Chinese approach in Africa against one another. "From an African perspective, the question is not really about whether to prefer Western or other partners, but how to bargain more effectively for a good deal for their countries," Jolyon Ford, senior Africa analyst at Oxford Analytica, told Xinhua. Ford said international investors are generally finding African governments more assertive in ensuring value for money in major deals, which is a positive trend. "African governments are under pressure to ensure that investors -- whatever their country -- create local jobs and benefits," he said, adding that surveys in major African countries reveal an overall positive view of China's role in global affairs, and on the continent. "For Africa, I truly believe there is strong cooperation potential with China and other partners," said Jonathan Holslag, research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies. "But what we are currently witnessing is political distrust on different sides, making a cooperation very difficult. It is mostly a challenge of coordination," he added.

China, now Africa's largest trading partner, has made large investments in the continent. In 2010, China's foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region jumped to more than 10 billion U.S. dollars and the two-way trade volume stood at 124 billion dollars, according to official figures. And while China has been a major driving force of growth in Africa, a key issue is the ability of Africa to handle the emerging opportunities, said Holslag. "China generates opportunities but there is a difference between generating opportunities and how they are actually used. That is the responsibility and challenge of African leaders," he added.

To know the sentiments among common African people about China, Xinhua interviewed a cross-section of African citizens in Matonge -- Brussels' famous African district.   Dave Sissoko, 32, said it was remarkable how virtually every family in his native Senegal now had a TV, appliance or piece of furniture that came from China. "Living standards have increased and the middle class is slowly emerging. We are witnessing positive changes and there are new roads, hospitals that did not exist before," he said.For 29-year-old Augustin Muyumbo from Togo, his good impression of China stemmed from a fact that China views Togo as 'an equal partner'."In Africa, our goals are consolidating our growth and making it sustainable. All partners who help us achieve this are welcome," he added. (Xinhua)

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