The African Union (AU) High Representative for Silencing the Guns, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, on Thursday urged African states to learn from the Chinese experience if the continent is to achieve its dream of development.
Chambas gave the advice when he delivered a webinar keynote address to participants at the 2023 Abuja Forum, a conference organised by the Gusau Institute in collaboration with the Zhejiang Normal University of China.
The forum which was held in Abuja, had the theme: “Promoting Africa-China Belt and Road Cooperation for a New Era of Common Development.”
Speaking further in his address, Chambas said, “there are a few of lessons that I see we can learn from the Chinese experience.
“Many commentators see China’s rapid development as a miracle but it is obvious to me that this was no miracle.
“No, it was not a miracle. It came about as a result of careful and meticulous planning directed by a national vision.
“The saying that ‘failure to plan is planning to fail’ is a truism.
“The Chinese were able to correctly analyse and understand their situation decided, where they wanted to go, and set out to plan the exact steps to be taken to get there.
“But we all know that planning alone isn’t enough.
“Therefore, the second important lesson we can learn from the Chinese experience is the discipline of policy implementation.
“No matter how well one plans, without proper execution everything will come to naught. Admittedly, we have a serious problem with following through with our plans in Africa.
“I have seen a fair share of good policy documents prepared by experts at the country, regional, and continental levels which have remained on the shelves while the problems that they were designed to solve linger on.
”I am curious to see how Africa-China partnerships could help us develop this discipline of implementation and delivery.”
He said China’s goal of achieving full integration into the global economy over the longer term, currently manifests through two separate but inter-connected global initiatives, namely – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the “International Capacity Cooperation” initiative.
According to him, BRI projects China’s global economic connectivity and influence along two major axes (the on-land Eurasian bridge referred to as the “Silk Road and Economic Belt” – and the maritime route which connects seaports in China to those in Asia, Pacific, and Africa – referred to as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) whereas the “International Capacity Cooperation” initiative aims primarily to move offshore, in the form of project-specific investments.
“China has also set up a variety of special purpose infrastructure investment funds, such as China-Arab Investment funds; China-South America Fund; China-Africa Development Fund, and the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation aimed at bolstering support for China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation, toward Africa’s industrialiaation drive, the former ECOWAS president said.
“Thirdly, the Chinese have been able to develop without compromising their culture, history, and way of life.
“It is remarkable that they have been able to weather all global pressures including ideological, philosophical, cultural, moral, economic, and political pressures to keep their culture.
“From my perspective, it is this ability to maintain and improve upon their way of life that has helped the Chinese to come this far.
“What this teaches us is that we cannot develop by seeking to copy everything from other places.
“Development after all is a positive evolution of culture.
“So how do we take stock of our history and culture, improve upon the positive aspects, and resolve the negative aspects such that we can take full advantage of our enormous resources to build the prosperity that we so desire as Africans.
“This is a question that should continually agitate our minds as we engage our partners,” Chambas said.
He noted that as the AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns, he is “particularly optimistic about what the China-Africa relationship means for peace and security.
“The Africa-China cooperation equally aims at building a safer, stable, and more peaceful Africa by upholding the common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concepts.
“China and Africa have continued to pursue peace through cooperation and resolving differences through dialogue and consultations.
“China supports African countries in seeking African solutions to African problems,” he added.
He stated that the two parties are jointly promoting the timely accomplishment of “silencing guns in Africa”.
Chambas, therefore, urged all sides in the Africa-China partnership to make the the collaboration durable and a win-win for both sides.
He expressed optimism that the partnership would help Africa realise its vision captured in Agenda 2063.
Speaking earlier, Founder of Gusau Institute, retired Lt.-Gen. Aliyu Gusau said that the yearly conference “is billed to advance dialogue and foster more understanding between African nations and the People’s Republic of China.
”It also provides the opportunity for critical discussion of issues that mutually affect China and Africa.”
Gusau said that coming against the backdrop of wide-ranging interactions between “our regions”, there was no doubt that the forum could promote closer friendship, greater economic engagement, and other mutually beneficial activities.
According to him, it has become imperative that in the fast-changing political, economic, and other global ecosystems, more attention should be focused on the importance of effective collaboration, in this case, between Africa and China.
“This is not only appropriate but timely if we are to develop a new and workable strategic framework for tackling the increasingly intricate challenges of this era.
“We are convinced, following recent events, that any effort to shape a new international order that is stable, inclusive, and beneficial to all regions of the world, should be a collaborative effort,” he added.
He expressed optimism that the conference would witness very engaging and productive interactions.
“At the Gusau Institute, we believe that what Africa needs most now is an entity that will generate new ideas for dealing with old and emerging challenges facing the continent.
“Such a body should comprehend how global issues affect Africa. It should also articulate the course of actions needed to effectively address the numerous security problems that plague both the continent and the rest of the international community.
“A core value of our Institute is to develop long-term working relationships and partnerships with similar organisations around the globe, as we have with Zhejiang Normal University.
“We believe that fostering strong international relationships is paramount in ensuring the world’s sustainability and future growth,” the former National Security Adviser to former Nigerian presidents Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan said.
Highlight of the conference was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the institute and the Zhejiang Normal University.
The MoU is aimed at promoting academic collaboration, conference hosting, book-writing, student exchange, and information sharing on how to secure funding for academic purposes. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede