Speech: The Africa China Child turns 18 – What Next?

 In personal, speech

Good afternoon distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen! Thank you so much to Kente and Silk for organising this event, China-Africa Stories, and for the kind invitation to speak today.

I must apologise that I was not able to join and hear the other speeches and panel discussions this morning,  as I have a regular commitment on Saturday mornings that I only miss if I absolutely have to travel abroad.  That commitment is to run “Safari Time” which is a class for small children, from the age of 3 months up to 4 years old, that I and my husband designed to introduce them to languages and cultures from all over the world, through nursery songs. The carers sing the songs and help the little ones move and dance, encouraging them to become global citizens from a very early age.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you sing any nursery rhymes – though perhaps I should as I am the post-lunch speaker (!) – but instead I will share with you the story of another global child, who will, this year turn eighteen years old.  That child is the Forum of China Africa Cooperation, or FOCAC.

I see that many of you have not heard of it. Actually, it was the baby of a set of African ministers and ambassadors, in particular led by Madagascar, in the late 90s. The baby was finally born in 2000, here in Beijing.  By then, there were other similar global children.  The oldest was the African-French child, who was by then 27 years old, and the African-Japanese child who was 7 by the time the Africa-China baby was born.

The Africa-China child’s 6th birthday was a very special year. Perhaps because 6 is such an auspicious number in China. The child was promoted from a ministerial level endeavour to a Head of State level endeavour, and a new special equity-based fund was launched to commemorate the occasion, known as the China Africa Development Fund, and to be operated by the long-standing China Development Bank.

Age 15 was another major milestone. The Africa-China child… well, now a teenager… travelled to Africa for the first time, and specifically to Johannesburg in South Africa.  This was also a promoted, Head of State level meeting, and over 40 heads from Africa joined the party. I attended this party too, and the gifts revealed there were larger than ever.  60 billion US dollars in total – 35 of which were loans, 5 of which were straight grants, and the rest was to be disbursed through the CADFund and another brand new fund just for industrialisation – which was by then a major African development priority.  The Africa-China child was promised 10 areas for specific cooperation – with specific promises for support related to agriculture to health to tourism and poverty reduction.

By then, and with these gifts and promises, this 15 year old teenager was doing very well. The gifts and promises were much more significant than its predecessors had managed, and even its successors – such as India – by then 10 years old, and the US – who was only 4 years old at that point, were trying but not yet catching up.  The party in 2015 really set some bold and high precedent.

Now, in 2018, this child, teenager is about to transition into being an adult. In September, there will be another huge party, this time back in its place of birth right here in Beijing.

What should happen this year? Well, when we talk of turning 18, we use phrases such as “flying the nest”, “growing up”, and such like.  We expect, beyond 18, to have more complex lives, to take more responsibility for ourselves and not rely on others so much. We are expected to being thinking and investing in our homes, our families, our careers.  No more nursery songs, no more school.  It’s apprenticeships, internships, or universities instead.

I am sure some ideas have already been shared this morning, for how the Africa-China child can progress. I know more will come up this afternoon as we have two further excellent panel discussions.

But let me share with you briefly 5 ideas for what next – as a 15 year old myself in terms of my own career and interest in Africa-China relations is concerned.

First, gifts are still welcome. All of you in the audience who are over 18 will remember that at 18 you did still want to get some gifts! Maybe smaller ones, sure. But you also needed some significant gifts – perhaps access to a trust fund to start a mortgage or pay your university tuition fees, or a new car to help you get into work or start a new business. The Africa-China grown-up will still have some long-term needs, which the right type of gifts can support.

Second, part of becoming an adult is dealing with more complexity in life. Addressing and seeking to tackle deep-roots – like going on a gap year to expose yourself to hardship and do something meaningful, or starting to read non-fiction not just novels. The Africa-China child, as an adult, also needs to embrace more complexity. To tackle trade imbalances between African countries and China rather than simply aim to increase overall volumes. To ensure that Chinese companies actually invest and provide more foreign direct investment to African countries rather than build infrastructure they will never use, but that is paid for by Africans taking on debt.  To dramatically cut visa costs and barriers for African people entering China, while continuing to attract Chinese people – especially tourists – to African countries. To have more regional engagement rather than un-coordinated bilateral engagement between African countries and China.  Focusing on the structural issues will mean the Africa-China grown-up can actually support itself, rather than being dependent on parents or others in the community.

Third, another aspect of becoming an adult is dealing with a wider range of people in different circumstances. From having a boss, to academic peers from other countries, to actually negotiating with a landlord. Becoming an adult means interacting with more people than your friends, parents and teachers. For 18 years the Africa-China child has been mostly interacting just with governments. Yes, at the 15th birthday party there was a big business party that joined, but those businesses mostly had very close relationships to government. At 18, the time has come to branch out. To engage smaller and medium sized businesses, to engage non-governmental organisations, students – the sorts of people in this room, in shaping and supporting its future life. That’s part of growing up.

Fourth, one of the hardest, but most essential parts of becoming an adult is dealing with reality. At 18, many people around the world get the right to vote, they are allowed to drink alcohol or drive (though never at the same time!), adoptees are able to find out the names of their birth parents. This sharing of reality – some degree of transparency  is also important for the Africa-China child to be exposed to now. In the past, there were concerns that the Africa-China child could not cope with, for example, knowing exactly how the 60 billion has been spent. Concerns that some African children would say “its not fair” that the other got more, and they got less and vice versa. Well, now its time to put that childish time aside. There are always reasons for distribution, even if they don’t seem logical to everyone at the time. The Africa-China adult can cope with the reality, and needs understanding to move forward and make better decisions in future.

Fifth and finally, one of the most exciting aspects of becoming an adult is the opportunity to chart your own way. To become a true individual, try out new paths. The Africa-China child, especially as a teenager, showed some great promise with talk of green growth, which has never been done before, better technology cooperation and so on. As an 18 year old, now is the time to put this talk into action. Now is the time to really leapfrog and innovate, especially if it joins the almost 5 year old, inspiring “Belt and Road” university. Whether its using renewable technologies for energy and transport, using smartphones and blockchain… the possibilities are endless and critical. But they also mean challenging, real choices and action by Africa-China stakeholders… to stop using coal, to adapt working practices and learn new code, new languages… Being a pioneering adult, even along the Belt and Road path, doesn’t come easy!

Dear global citizens in this room, young and old, from African countries, from China, from beyond. Dear friends of the Africa-China soon-to-be adult. You will all have your own ideas for its future. You, we, are all its supporters, its champions as it goes forwards. If we were not we would not be here today.  But being supporters means being good parents too. Encouraging and nurturing the teenager when he/she does well, and telling off the teenager when he/she does badly, helping him/her find a better path to improve.  This is our responsibility.

Today has been all about sharing stories. The global, Africa-China baby, born in 2000, has its own unique story. It has flourished so far, and has great potential to become an amazing adult. I hope we will all help it grow and deliver a bigger impact, especially on the close to 400 million people’s lives who are still in dire poverty on the African continent.  There is such an opportunity here.

In this way, I will close not using a nursery rhyme, but simply by using the three languages we use in Safari Time to say hello and goodbye to the little global babies – thank you, xiexie, and asanteni!

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EDMOND BOSILONG

Research Analyst

Edmond is a research analyst who is passionate about sustainable development, innovation, and the environment. Passionate about climate financing, he firmly believe there is a more reliable system to promote equality, growth, and welfare in societies without affecting the ecosystem. Through his skills, knowledge and experienced gained over 7 years, he wants to make an impact in the world of development. Edmond holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Korea Development Institute and a BA Degree (Honors) in Business from University of Derby.

   HANNAH RYDER

    Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.

LEAH LYNCH

Deputy Director

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

YIKE FU

China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

JUDITH MWAI

Research Analyst

Judith is a Research and Policy Analyst, where she specialises in Africa-China relations, international development, and diplomacy. During her time at Development Reimagined, Judith has co-authored several articles published in The Diplomat on debt and China-Barbados relations and was quoted by China Daily in a piece on Women Rights in China. Previously, Judith worked as a research analyst for an Advocate and Commissioner and Oats office in Kenya.

OVIGWE EGUEGU

Policy Analyst

Ovigwe specialises in geopolitics with particular reference to Africa in a changing Global Order. He is adept at critically analysing the politics of contemporary development processes and providing insight into the geopolitical interests that influence them. His work includes research, publications, tailored briefings and advising on global and regional trends, and issues at the nexus of geopolitics and development. Ovigwe appears frequently in media around the world such as Al Jazeera, TRT World, SABC, CGTN, BBC Radio, and other platforms.

JING CAI

Policy Analyst

Jing leads China-African health and agriculture cooperation research at Development Reimagined, having managed our FOCAC Policy Analysis and Advocacy project. She is also the co-author of “China-Africa Health Cooperation under FOCAC Umbrella”, in which she analysed China’s commitments around health cooperation since the first FOCAC summit and deepdived into four African countries’ health overview, challenges and cooperation with China as cases studies. Before DR, Jing worked at GIZ Cambodia on M&E of a disability advocacy project. She also worked as a translator with Chinese medical team in Benin.

PATRICK ANAM

Trade Policy Analyst

Patrick is an International Trade Policy and Trade Law Expert with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes trade law, trade policy analysis and regional integration. He is currently engaged with Development Reimagined as a Senior Trade Analyst and was the lead author of Development Reimagined's recent Report on Africa-China Relations titled "From China-Africa to Africa- China: A Blue Print for a Green and Inclusive Continent-Wide Strategy Towards China." and “Reimaging FOCAC Going Forward.” Patrick has previously consulted for the East African Community, UNECA and for the Kenya Ministry of Trade.

ROSIE FLOWERS

Senior Policy Analyst 

Rosemary is our Senior Policy Analyst. She is a skilled policy analyst and has previously worked as a UK civil servant. She is studying Human Rights at Birkbeck, University of London with a research focus on international law in the context of health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

JADE SCARFE

Project Manager and Africa-China Communication Assistant

Jade is a Project Manager for Development Reimagined’s flagship project Africa Unconstrained, which focuses on financing needs and debt vulnerabilities of African countries. Her research focuses on China-Africa development finance alongside debt vulnerabilities, infrastructure needs and South-South cooperation. She has worked with a breadth of stakeholders from China, Africa and the wider international community, including governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Africa Report, The China-Africa Project, The Diplomat and more. Jade holds a Master’s in China and Globalisation studies from King’s College London.

ROSIE WIGMORE

Programme Manager

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Rosie is also alumni of the School of International Studies at Peking University in Beijing where she is also an editor at the Peking Africa Think Tank. PATT is led by a diverse group of scholars who specialise in African Studies within the context of Sino-Africa relations.

LAUREN ASHMORE

Consultant

Lauren has lived in six countries from the Americas to Europe and Asia and speaks both French and Spanish proficiently. At Development Reimagined, Lauren’s research focuses on climate action both in the Asia-Pacific and in Africa, and how countries are using tools such as SDGs and Covid-19 action to build a more climate-resilient future. She holds a Masters in International Relations from Leiden University.

ETSEHIWOT KEBRET

Consultant

Etsehiwot holds a Masters’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. She has diverse experience in humanitarian and development issues by working in both multilateral organizations and international non-governmental organizations. Etsehiwot is currently a consultant focusing on the SDGs and development finance.

DIBEKULU MULU

Economist Consultant

Dibekulu is an economist by training. He holds an MSc in International Development Studies from Palacky University Olomouc, an MSc in Development Economics from the University of Clermont Auvergne, and an MSc in Economics, Finance, and International Integration from the University of Pavia. At Development Reimagined, he works as an Economist consultant. He has strong data analysis skills, with research interests centring around development finance, impact assessment, food security, and agricultural insurance.

OSARU OMOSIGHO

Project Manager

Osaru is a health professional with an MSc in Health Systems Policy and an interest in women’s health and population management. At Development Reimagined, she applies her health sector experience to global health research and collating locally applicable development insights from China.

PIER FERDINANDO CINOTTO

Research Analyst

Ferdinando’s research at Development Reimagined is centred on South-South Cooperation dynamics, specifically on the analysis of Chinese investment and debt flows in Africa and their linkages to African industrialisation. He is currently a Yenching Scholar at Peking University, after having graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies.

DAVID TINASHE NYAGWETA

Research Analyst

David is a Research and data analyst at Development Reimagined. His scholarly focus is mostly on interdisciplinary research in demographic economics and development with interests in migration, economic development and policy, education, health and subjective well-being. He is currently a PhD scholar at Nelson Mandela University from which he also holds B.com Economics and Statistics and M.com respectively.

IVORY KAIRO

Research Analyst Kenya

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team at DR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French.

JOY ENE

Research And Data Analyst China 

Joy Ene is a Research and Data Analyst at DR. Joy is passionate about African/global development, poverty eradication and trade policies between underdeveloped and developing countries. She is also a fourth-year student of International Economics and Trade at the  Liaoning University, Shenyang, China. She serves as the President of the Student Union, Liaoning University, International Students chapter.

CHENSI LI

Research Analyst 

Chensi Li is a research analyst. She has previously worked for local NGOs in Nigeria and Cameroon and think-tanks in China.  Her research areas include Sino-African relations, African foreign affairs, public diplomacy, state-building and national governance.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst 

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion

HANNAH RYDER

Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.