One Belt One Road and a prosperous Africa

The Human Sciences Research Council (AISA/HSRC) in partnership with China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Durban University of Technology, the Confucius Institute (DuT) and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is organising a conference titled One Belt One Road and a prosperous Africa that will be held on the 19-20th of November 2015 at Durban University of Technology.

The conference intends to serve as a built up for FOCAC meeting to be held in South Africa. Its main objective is to carve a continental wide approach on One Belt One Road Strategy that has been developed by China. In doing this we have succeeded to bring together specialists in China development strategies. These will guide the discussions during the conference. Our intention is to consolidate these into a publication that will be used to further solicit inputs from African countries and scholars on how Africa should participate in One Belt One road Strategy.

BACKGROUND

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013, he announced the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, which has attracted attention from all over the world. Both initiatives fall under China’s broader plan termed One Belt One Road (OBOR).

In line with China’s view that the initiative should not be inhibited by geographical limits of the ancient Silk Road, the 21st century context must be reflected. Africa remains among the key global growth points and China has prioritised interaction with Africa through the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). As the OBOR strategy develops, it is imperative that the African continent is incorporated into this grand vision to further cement the historical bonds between China and Africa.

PURPOSE

China’s general emphasis on infrastructure development has received positive endorsement of African leaders. The visit of Premier LI Keqiang to Africa during May 2014 served to further expand China - Africa Cooperation, especially in the infrastructure domain.

This focus on infrastructure development was further consolidated by the signing of an MoU between China and the African Union on 27 January 2015. The ambitious agreement plans to connect all 54 African countries through transportation infrastructure projects, including modern highways, airports, and high speed railways. While these developments are not officially a component of “One Belt, One Road,” the linkages are clear.

China has from the outset emphasised that the OBOR will be developed within the framework of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence, viz; (1) mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; (2) non-aggression; (3) non-interference in each other's internal affairs; (4) equality and mutual benefit; and (5) peaceful coexistence.

Provision for securing the Chinese maritime route also features in the work of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) - a platform to establish key priorities in China-Africa relations operational since 2000. With management of peace and security increasingly being devolved from the AU to Africa’s sub-regional organisations, China, like other external powers, is looking to support this with resources, training and through security agreements. Assuring that Chinese commitments in this sector cohere with AU policies and practices is important to South Africa.

Africa has been identified as the future driver of global growth, as articulated in the AU’s Vision 2063. The reality is that the Africa we knew 30 years ago is fast transforming and all indicators are pointing to continent of peace and security underpinned by good governance and enhanced economic growth and development. However it will be crucial to determine how OBOR can complement Agenda 2063 to create the ‘Africa we Want’?

THEMES

Africa’s role in the initiative should be underpinned by the following critical areas;
1. Industrialisation
2. Infrastructure development
3. Development of SEZ’s and Industrial Parks
4. Developing the Energy sector
5. The Green and Blue Economies
6. Development Finance
7. Peace and security as a prerequisite for sustainable development
8. Human Resource and Skills Development
9. People to people exchanges, e.g. cultural tourism

Download the full conference details.