As the world socio-economic scenario has been changed, exceeding the West , China has stood out to be a potential growth pole for developing countries . The presence and engagement of China particularly in African countries’ economics have been tremendous.
After the introduction of economic liberalization since 1979, China has made economic miracle which lifted 700 million people out of poverty and now it is the second largest economy in the world next to the United States.
In fact, China has been displaying fast economic growth over the past 40 plus years. Inspired by this economic development, other emerging economies and developing countries have been emulating China’s model.
Recently, the Africa- China high level dialogue and think thank forum was held under the theme : “Fighting Against Poverty for Common Prosperity.”
Presenting paper on China’s economic background and its takeoff, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Arkebe Equbay said 30 percent of the world manufacturing was concentrated in China during the 15th and 16th centuries and such situation can be said a good back ground for the economic take off.
He further said that China had developed a system of meritocracy that was helpful for laying ground for competitive economic environment. However, after the opium war , China’s manufacturing dominance taken away by the West.But, resurrected again during the late 19 70’s.
According to Dr. Arkebe, every country could take lesson from other country considering its own context. Japan learned from the United States and Europe through sending students to these countries. He said the first parliamentary system established by the Meiji dynasty in Japan in 1080s was emulated from United Kingdom. The railway technology also imported from UK. As to him, such emulation is vital for Africa and China which is a closer reference to African continent economic endeavor.
Currently, Africa has 1.2 billion people which constitute 16 percent of the global population and this number is expected to increase to 40 percent by the year 2080. Dr. Arkebe argued that the huge number of population of the continent is an indicator of how the continent has a potential to obtain excess labor force which generate wealth and could be consumer of industrial and agricultural products.
It is certain that the future is for Africa. Thus, China and other economic power countries should look the continent as key economic player for the next century and bring significant impact in the global market.
According to Dr. Arkebe, over the last 15 years many African countries have managed political conflicts and created conducive situation for stimulating their economy.
Consequently, the political stability has enabled countries to lure foreign investors to engage in the ongoing development. Improvement has also been witnessed in governance. Yet countries have not achieved fundamental economic transformation, according to Arkebe.
Many African countries are not yet capable of exporting value added products and diversified items. As the result, the mono economic performer countries which export oil and minerals found themselves in difficult situation. Therefore, taking lesson from China in this regard is vital.
Hu Jing is an economist from China who presented paper focused on Africa-China economic cooperation. He said China is the most populous country and 40 years ago it was one of the poor countries in the world. Owing to the implementation of viable policies and taking lesson from north eastern Asian countries ,China has achieved remarkable economic miracle which is unprecedented in extricating its citizens from poverty and improving their livelihood. The opening of its economy to the foreign investors enabled the country to attract almost half a million multinational companies to invest in China and create job opportunities for hundreds of millions citizens.
Now China has the leading economy and integrated in the world economy order. The annual trade volume exchange with Africa has reached 60 billion USD. China is the major investor in Africa in various sector particularly in infrastructure development
Though, fighting poverty and improving the livelihood of citizens are the responsibility of each government, forging sound cooperation among countries is vital for all countries. Among the various cooperation areas the road sector development is central.
According to Hu, expansion of infrastructure can bring ample benefits to the public. For instance, roads connect rural parts with urban center so that it facilitates trade which enables to reduce transaction cost. It is also a fundamental factor to advance all other key economic and social sectors including agriculture, mining, tourism, education and health among others.
The expansion of road network is a means to advance the economic progress. In this regard, the support of Chinese government in road construction in many African countries has been growing from time to time. These days, the countries are harnessing the outcome of the road facility.
The current rapid economic growth of Africa is demanding the construction of cost effective and efficient means of transportation for the ever increasing import and export bulk of freights. Along with the road construction, the rail way mode of transportation is playing crucial role in speeding up the logistics service.
Cognizant of this fact, many of African counties are devoting their time and money for the construction of rail way. The role and contribution of the Chinese public and private companies are immense to this end . The construction of electric powered rail way which connects Addis Ababa to Port of Djibouti is exemplary and will play a vital role in boosting export and import businesses. Similarly, the rail way constructed by Chinese company, which connects Port Mobassa with Nairobi, is expected to increase the trade volume Kenya has with the outside world.
In sum, the journey China has been through is a lesson for most developing countries. Ethiopia which follows China’s development model, would benefit more from the successes and challenges of China’s development. In fact, the trade exchange volume between China and Ethiopia has been steadily growing registering three billion USD.
The Chinese companies’ involvement in Ethiopia is widening in sectors and increasing in number. They are overtaking the lead in their investment. Along with generating considerable foreign currency, the Chinese investment projects have created thousands of jobs. They are doing well in terms of technology transfer. In general, the ever growing partnership, which is taking shape into a strategic cooperation level, would be a driving force for Ethiopia for its transformation agenda.
By Abebe Wolde Giorgis