Europe can cooperate with China in Africa as region attracts global attention

As both Europe and China turn their eyes to Africa, they can join hands to help the world’s least developed continent strengthen its economy and address migration issues at the same time.

Recently, Africa has received worldwide attention thanks to several major events. Accompanied by a business delegation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled last week to Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, focusing on development aid and illegal migration.

In Ghana on Thursday she called for German support in Africa’s infrastructure and energy to give hope to young people, so that they would never make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May visited South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya for the first time, accompanied by a 29-strong business delegation.

On Monday, the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is to be held in Beijing, with a number of African leaders and the chairperson of the African Union expected to attend.

As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, the summit aims to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future further dovetailing the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative with African development, setting a new path for higher level China-Africa cooperation and deepening people-to-people exchanges.

The three desirable events, which are likely to coincide, show how Africa is catching worldwide attention.

Stefan Liebing, chairman of the German-African Business Association, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur recently that Germany wants to invest more in Africa.

Liebing added that the enormous investments from China in infrastructure and industry help boost Africa’s economy, and Germany should therefore stop looking at China as a competitor.

China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row. In the past three years, China’s annual average direct investment in Africa stood at around $3 billion.

Berthold Kuhn, a political scientist of the Free University of Berlin, told Xinhua that European and Chinese approaches to development aid to Africa are different: Europe tries to have a more clear-cut distinction between trade and economic affairs on the one hand and aid on the other hand, while China mixes the two together more.

China’s engagement is more visible, focusing on infrastructure construction, while Europe focuses more on education and training. Therefore, China and Europe have great potential to cooperate.

“They could jointly evaluate the effectiveness of some of their projects. Both parties know that implementing projects is not easy in Africa,” said Kuhn, who believes that the two sides can cooperate not only at a high political level, but also at a project level.

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