China’s Assistance to Africa Needs to Focus More on Training, Education: Namibian Official

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WINDHOEK China’s development assistance to African countries needs to focus more on training and education through scholarships and staff-exchange programmes, a Namibian official said last week. “Africa has a dire need for qualified artisans, engineers, and so forth. China has made huge gains in this area and could be of great assistance to Africa by increasing the provision of training opportunities, as well as by sending their excess skilled labour to help build African infrastructure such as dams, roads and railway lines,” said Bernharadt M. Esau, deputy minister of Trade and Industry, during an interview with Xinhua. He praised China for always providing assistance to Africa without any conditions, and with due cognizance of the difficulties faced by African countries in the quest to economically develop themselves. It has also strongly supported and contributed to the debt cancellations of many African countries which are now in a position to use the funds for economic development. “We are very grateful for these supportive actions of the Chinese government. To us, China is a natural ally, and partner in the struggle for economic independence from neo-colonialism. It is a strong proponent for South-South cooperation and for a more egalitarian world system,” he said. In return, Africa has been more than willing and will continue to ensure that China receives the commodities it requires at competitive prices to sustain high economic growth rates and provide a better standard of living for its people, he said. “We need to build upon our historical experiences, and translate the political gains into an economic advantage by collaborating to increase Chinese investments, capital, and technology in Africa to assist us to unlock the vast mineral resources and agricultural potential,” said the official. “Cooperation should also increase in the area of promoting tourism. Both China and Africa has more to gain by diverting tourism in each other’s direction and so tap into this huge global market which annually generates billions of U.S. dollars.” The official stressed that China has been a “most reliable ally and friend of Africa and Namibia” since the days of Africa’s colonialization. As such, the current relations are much shaped by the technical, financial, diplomatic and development assistance which China rendered to many African countries, including Namibia. To this effect, China’s economic rise and in particular its contribution to the increase in the global demand for resources such as aluminum, steel, nickel, copper, oil and gas, have contributed immensely to Africa’s importance as a provider of these resources. Indeed, China’s economic competitiveness as an exporter of manufactured industrial and consumer goods has greatly assisted in reducing the high prices usually paid by African importers to suppliers of industrial inputs from the West. In his opinion, African countries are now profiting from higher export gains due to China’s increased demand for commodities, as well as from cheaper import prices because of the high output of cheaper manufactured goods. “We can confidently say that the terms of trade have shifted towards those countries exporting raw materials and importing manufactured goods. In fact, it is due to China’s global presence that the end of the Cold War prediction, which presumed that Africa would become a forgotten and marginalized continent, has not been realized and is unlikely to happen,” he said. “In a nutshell, our relationship with China, which is mutually beneficial, is very excellent as it has always been.” He admitted that there are some obstacles such as cultural and language differences between the two sides. “We are successfully overcoming through dialogue, appreciation, acceptance and celebration of each other’s cultures,” he said, adding that the bilateral relationship has been tried under the most severe conditions of colonization and did withstand the test of the time successfully due to the understanding between both African and Chinese leaders. “In the same manner, we will deal with any perceived or real threat or obstacle through dialogue based on a rich history of cooperation, friendship and common interests,” the official said. He said an “excellent case in point” was the issue of Chinese textile exports which threatens the survival of the textile industry in southern Africa, and China’s understanding and willingness to sit around the table with leaders of that region to resolve this issue amicably and in a mutually beneficial manner.” “We should continue dialogue on important issues of common concern, expand cooperation to areas not covered yet such as tourism, sign new bilateral agreements and implement them, within the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum,” he said. “I see many Africans now learning the Chinese culture and language, and also Chinese nationals learning African languages and marrying Africans. This is a good development for our people to embrace and be internalized at personal and family levels,” the official added. – Xinhua