China-Africa cooperation bearing rich fruit

Date: 09 Sep 2021

At a landmark summit three years ago, President Xi Jinping and African leaders drew an ambitious blueprint for China-Africa cooperation, with Xi proposing eight major initiatives.

Three years on, China-Africa friendship and cooperation have grown even deeper and closer, and the grand plan is turning into reality, bearing rich fruit across the African continent.

A total of 5,000 jobs and a 15-fold increase in customs revenue were generated by Kribi deep-sea port, the first deep-water port in Cameroon, said Alain Patrick Mpila Ayissi, director of planning and environment at the port.

The port, established in March 2018 and built by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), is jointly operated by China, France and Cameroon, with its second phase to be completed in 2023.

"Cameroon is on the fast track of development, and China is accompanying it," Ayissi said.

With the port, Kribi has become a thriving city with an expanding population. "This is now really a modern port, and it will benefit future generations," said Armand Guehoada, who joined CHEC eight years ago. "I started with human resources management, and have now become an import and export salesman. I am quite comfortable with my life."

In 2017, the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pan-African Agency for the Great Green Wall on promoting the ecological environment in Africa.

The "Great Green Wall" initiative, launched in 2007 and led by the African Union, plans to build a shelterbelt spanning more than 8,000 kilometers across Africa, from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, in order to prevent the Sahara Desert from expanding southward.

Zhou Na, an assistant researcher at the XIEG, and her colleagues have traveled back and forth between the Taklamakan Desert and the Sahara Desert to share their experiences. She said it is her wish to "bring China's experience to the Sahara, promote green development and improve the livelihoods of African people".

In recent years, she and her colleagues have adopted different strategies according to local conditions such as sand control and quicksand fixation technology in Mauritania, ecological restoration of shrub grassland in Ethiopia, and technical support for sustainable management and protection of a shelterbelt in Nigeria.

Mohamed El Houssein Mohamed Legraa, director of the National Agency of the Great Green Wall of Mauritania, spoke highly of China's technical support.

"The Chinese are ahead in the fight against desertification. They have turned deserts into forests," he said. "Here in Mauritania, we are suffering from desertification, low rainfall and the impact of climate change. Therefore, we need Chinese experience very much."

"The hut has been replaced with a concrete house, and furniture and household appliances have been added. I have made a decent living by planting rice in Wanbao," farmer Milagre Abel Massingue said proudly of the dramatic changes in his life.

Located in the Xai-Xai district of the southern Mozambican province of Gaza, the Wanbao Mozambique rice farm, invested by the China-Africa Development Fund, is China's largest project of its kind in Africa. With vast arable land, a favorable climate, abundant water resources and support from China, the project is scheduled to cover 20,000 hectares (20 square km).

Massingue, one of the more than 500 contractors, joined the Wanbao project five years ago by contracting for two hectares of land. He said he can at least double the output nowadays with Chinese technology.

"The Chinese government has been supporting Mozambique and this project has enhanced our traditional friendship," said Dalilo Latifo, provincial director of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The project, added Latifo, effectively promoted the vitality of local agricultural production and will strongly boost the agricultural development of Mozambique.

Concilia Owire was one of the first seven women drivers recruited by the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), Kenya, and witnessed the opening ceremony of the railway.

For her, operating a locomotive under the gaze of her country's president is the "best memory" of her life. In May 2017, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, which was built and operated by China Road and Bridge Corporation, was officially opened to traffic.

The railway connects Mombasa, the largest port city in East Africa, and Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, with a total length of about 480 km. It is the first railway built since Kenya's independence, shortening the journey between the two cities from 10 hours to five hours.

In December 2019, the first phase of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway extension line was completed and opened to traffic. Owning a modern railway had long been a dream of the Kenyan people. This is the beginning of the transformation which will create jobs, hope, opportunities and prosperity for all Kenyans, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said during a test ride.

Traveling on the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, Owire also caught the "express train" of her career. She has been successfully promoted to a driving instructor, responsible for training students, and her Chinese language proficiency has also improved.

As a landmark project of Belt and Road cooperation between China and Kenya, the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR created more than 30,000 jobs during the construction period alone, and contributed 1.5 percentage points to Kenya's economic growth.

Owire said she believes the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR will help revitalize the logistics industry in Kenya and promote economic development in East Africa. "I believe Kenya's railway network will get better and better in the future, just like China's railway network," she said.

Source: China Daily

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