On July 13th 2012 I participated in a Forum on China-Africa Financial Cooperation and I believe that my presentation is worth Cooperation and I believe that my presentation is worth sharing with readers of this column.
“Let me express my pleasure to this Forum on China-Africa Financial Cooperation jointly organized by Exim Bnak of China and Afrexim Bank following closely on 2nd China-Africa People’s Forum which I attended four days ago in Sazhou where Vice-President XI Jing Ping gave the Keynote Address.
Let me hasten to thank the organizers of this Forum for their kind invitation to me and for the opportunity to rub minds with you on the theme of the Forum, “China’s Development Experiences and Lessons for Africa,” I strongly believe that these exchanges and interactions between China and Africa at this time are good for both sides considering the history of our relationship, friendship and cooperation. Let me commend Mr Li Ruogu, President of China Exim Bank, for the visible signs of the involvement of his bank in the development of Africa particularly in the agriculture and education sectors. These are relevant and vital sectors for our development in Africa. Let me congratulate Mr Ekra, President of African Export-Import Bank, for the good and great works he is doing in the bank since his assumption of good office which is itself had some uneasiness at the beginning.
In looking at lessons that Africa can learn from China’s development experiences, we must, first of all, take cognizance of the differences between China and Africa,. First to be appreciated is the fact that China is one country with the largest population of 1.3 billion people and vast area of land 9,598,086 square kilometers in the world, while Africa is a continent of fifty-five countries.
Although Africa is larger than China land area, it is only about half he population of China. China is located in an area where it shares land borders and maritime boundaries with neighbor some of whom are friendly and others who are so suspicious.
Africa is, on the other hand, a continent with internal conflicts and contradictions which it and surrounded by oceans and seas that are generally congenial. China is seen as a growing likely world power on which watchful eyes of competitors for global space and powers are set; Africa is generally regarded as poorest continent of the world which seems to be unsure on how best to handle the affairs, hence its poverty. China has many thousand years of recorded history and Confucius attitude and values to go by; Africa’s initials written history was by colonial masters from their own perspective.
These differences do not foreclose learning from each other; after all, human beings are human beings and their orientations, needs and desires are similar, no matter where they are geographically located, but we must be aware of special difficulties that such differences present in learning and copying by one from the other.
China’s development stems from the emergency of the country from the crucible of a revolution. Africa’s emergence from colonialism in the main is more evolutionary than revolutionary and both of us need to make up for the lost ground and the burden that our precedents have imposed on us. To forget history is to lose memory. China has not forgotten, Africa must not forget history. Always remember where you are coming from. China looked in, in preparation for opening up. Then, the focus became production and development.
By Olusegun Obasanjo – Obasanjo is former President of Nigeria
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