SADC Presents Huge Opportunities for China-Africa Industrial Cooperation

Leaders of 15 southern African countries, ranging from resources-rich Democratic Republic of Congo to the continent’s manufacturing hub South Africa, have adopted a half-a-century strategy to industrialise the region.

Experts say the strategy can bring huge opportunities for China-Africa cooperation as Beijing announced earlier this year its intention to prioritise China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation.

The strategy, to be implemented in three stages spanning from 2015 to 2063, was endorsed at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government held in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

The strategy is anchored on three pillars, namely industrialisation, competitiveness and regional integration and aims to turn the region from an exporter of minerals to a key global net exporter of processed goods. SADC executive secretary Lawrence Tax told Xinhua in a recent interview that there was “big room” for Chinese investment.

“China can play a big role in the implementation of our industrialisation strategy. China is an industrialised economy and we believe we can learn from what they have done to reach where they are and we can also learn from a technological point of view and the approach they have used in their special economic zones,” Tax said.

The Asian country could contribute by supporting the region’s infrastructure development as well as partner the private sector in implementing industrialisation projects, she added.

Tax also urged host governments in Africa to create an enabling, conducive environment for the Chinese private sector to participate in the region’s industrialisation drive.

Bilateral trade, direct investment, and loans-backed contract infrastructure projects are the three pillars of the China-Africa economic engagement. Among the three, Chinese direct investment is closely linked to the region’s industrialisation.

According to official statistics, Chinese direct investment to Africa had mounted to around 30 billion US dollars by the end of 2014. The SADC region absorbed around 40% of Chinese investments over the years as Chinese set up factories, explored mines, and developed goods and services across the politically stable sub-region. In his visit to Africa last year, Chinese premier Li Keqiang challenged Chinese investors and their African hosts to raise this figure to US$100 billion in a relatively short period of six years.

Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) executive director Munetsi Madakufamba also told Xinhua that SADC’s industrialisation strategy presented immense investment opportunities for China in such areas as value chain industries, infrastructure and special economic zones. He said some of the proposed industrialisation projects would create value chains across borders and such kind of projects required significant investments to materialise.

“There are various industries that can be established along the regional value chains and it’s a process that requires a lot of money and a lot of investment. So from an investment point of view, I think this is where China can come in to invest in industries that can be established along the value chains,” he said. — Nampa-Xinhua

Source : The Namibian