The St Regis Hall in Beijing was full on Thursday evening as Africans and friends of the continent gathered to observe the 60thAfrica Day celebrations.
The day commemorates not only the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now African Union) but also its role in uniting the African continent in the past six decades.
Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, and host of African ambassadors and dignitaries attended the brief event which provided an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of the continent and its relations with China.
In his welcoming remarks, Martin Mpana, Cameroonian ambassador to China, said: “The celebration each year of Africa Day offers an opportunity not only to recall the importance of working together in order to respond positively and effectively to the growing and multifaceted challenges along the paths of development, peace and security, among others, but also for us living in China, to promote the time-honoured Africa-China partnership characterized by equality, reciprocity, mutual respect and the common aspiration for peace and development.”
Mr Mpana, who is also dean of the Group of African Ambassadors to China, GAAC, praised the relations between the continent and China, which have blossomed in the past decade.
“The African Ambassadors to the People’s Republic of China are very appreciative of the partnership developed between China and various African Countries as well as regional bodies such as the African Union Commission on issues of infrastructural development, public health particularly during our joint efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, counter terrorism, climate action, advocating peace and stability, and various financial assistance and support through bilateral cooperation and FOCAC various platforms and activities. It is worthwhile to mention the mutual benefit for both China and the African nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as it enters its 10th anniversary which is a significant reminder of the ancient maritime Silk Road travelled by the well-known Chinese navigator “Zheng He” in his famous voyages to Africa 600 years ago,” he added.
Mr Mpana thanked President Xi Jinping for his tireless efforts and unflinching commitment to Africa.
“His deserved re-election for a third consecutive term during the 20th CPC National Congress is no doubt a result of his inspirational and visionary leadership and the implementation of successful reforms that eradicated poverty and guided China’s economic prosperity and social stability to higher levels. It has further bolstered our hopes since he has consistently injected vital steam and dynamism towards the realization of a high quality and strategic Africa-China partnership,” he said.
Also speaking, Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman, Permanent Representative of the African Union to China, noted: “I know that despite the difficulties of all kinds, Africa remains characterised by its great capacity for resilience. It was able, despite alarmist forecasts, at the time, to hold firm in the face of the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. Better still, it seized the opportunity of this misfortune to rethink its Health Strategy, in a concerted action by our Heads of State and Government. An evidence that if Africa wants, it can, whatever the nature and type of adversity it may have to face.
This is what the AU records shows through the results of the evaluation of the implementation of the First Decade of Agenda 2063.
Significant progress has been made in various areas. They could have been greater, had it not been for the exogenous shocks that accentuated the fragilities which our efforts were already working to overcome.”