The Republic of The Gambia, in addition to Togo and Sao Tome, has been welcomed into the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation – a south-south multilateral development organisation between the African continent and the People’s Republic of China.
Congratulating the new members during their remarks at the opening of the summit at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the President of China, Xi Jinping, and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadou Buhari, the current Chairperson of Ecowas, both graciously received the three countries stating that their membership would add a great value to the organisation.
This is the first time that The Gambia is participating in this summit. The previous one, which was held in South Africa in 2015 took place at a time when The Gambia did not have any diplomatic ties with mainland China. Following his election into office, President Adama Barrow quickly moved to establish bilateral relationship with mainland China, by expressing strong support for the one-China policy.
Outlining his country’s vision for the continent, the Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that China’s support to Africa would be based on a win-win relationship that puts emphasis on respect for sovereignty and cultures as well as the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries adding that China would never impose its values on any country.
He said China-Africa cooperation would be defined by harmonious relations and support to “Africa Silencing the Guns”, pledging that his country would stand by Africa to confront its development challenges. Instead of politics of hegemony, power and protectionism, China would open up to Africa in terms of commerce and trade, and stand by it to push against terrorism.
“New drivers of Chinese policy in global governance will continue to promote peace, boost coordination to build a better relationship with Africa based on mutual help,” he said.
On environmental issues, President Jinping promised that China would work together with African leaders to harmonise the environment with culture.
President Xi outlined a 10-point strategic cooperation plan for Africa that highlights key priorities areas such as the creating of industrial, economic and trade zones in Africa, the promotion of food security, agricultural mechanisation and agri-business, development of aviation and infrastructural networks, youth development, among others. Perhaps, one of the most important points is debts cancellation for small and least developed countries.
The outgoing co-chair of the Forum, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, described it as a platform for improving the lives of Africans. He argued that Forum for China-Africa Cooperation provides tangible results while empowering Africa to determine its own vision.
President Ramaphosa indicated that good governance, justice and rule of law, and the promotion of peace and culture as well as lasting peace, which really matter to the cooperation, are important principles that are integral to the continent’s development.
Respect local cultures and contribute corporate social responsibility
Meanwhile, the 6th Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs, which is a high level dialogue between Chinese and African leaders and business representatives, kicked off at the Chinese National Convention Centre in Beijing, marking the beginning of the Focac summit.
The Gambia’s respective ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Trade, as well as the secretary general, and permanent secretary in charge of investment at the Office of the President, along with a private business woman, Ms Kumba Baldeh, formed the delegation attending the high level dialogue.
At the business forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping, called on Chinese businesses in Africa to take up their corporate social responsibilities and respect local cultures in their engagements with African countries. He assures investments in infrastructural development, power generation, transmission and distribution amongst other business investments in Africa that would help boost the transformation of the continent.
Representatives from the different regions in Africa re-echoed the mutual benefits from the China-Africa Cooperation.
President Muhammadou Buhari, speaking on behalf of Ecowas, welcomed the new members including The Gambia to the Forum, applauding the participation of all members in the Summit. President Buhari listed several projects supported by Chinese funds, and noted that African efforts and commitment should push Africa’s development.
He also urged the development of tourism among other sectors in Africa as well as more foreign direct investments that would promote trade with China and correct trade imbalances. He also thanked President Xi Jinping for providing secretariat for Ecowas and calls for the institutionalisation of the fight against corruption to achieve economic growth in the continent.