“FOCAC at 20”

 In speech

Zhunjing de ge wei laibin, nushimen, xiangshimen, pengyoumen, da jia hão!

Vice President Lu Cairong

Chairperson Frolick

Ambassador Zhao YanBo

Distinguished Excellencies, guests ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,  it is a pleasure to be here and I would like to thank China Africa media publishing group and China International Publishing Group, People Daily online and Beijing Review for organising this important session. I am Hannah Wanjie Ryder, I am the CEO Development Reimagined which is an African led international development consultancy with our headquarters in China. I’ve been in this sector for close to 20 years, and therefore witnessed personally China’s role in Africa evolve over that period. 

Today, our topic is FOCAC at 20, which was borne out of a call from a number of African leaders to China to coordinate its support to Africa. At that time, thankfully, China listened and FOCAC was born. 

Two years ago, I gave a speech in Beijing about FOCAC at 18 – how it was a turning point for turning from a child to an adult, from being nurtured to one of independence and self-determination – more strategic and directional. No more nursery, no more school. It’s apprenticeships, internships, work or universities instead.

In  that speech, I put forward 5 ideas for how this new adulthood can be demonstrated:

  • To scale-up more financial flows that will really build Africa’s future
  • To become more complex – to move beyond aid, beyond exports to Africa and raw materials imports to China;
  • To move beyond government to government interaction;
  • To be more transparent and open within the group of 55 African economies;
  • And to innovate, especially in terms of mutual green growth.

Over the last two years, I believe FOCAC has begun these steps. We have seen a great deal of progress on trade, especially on opening up imports from Africa to china, which my firm has also actively supported through our initiative “Africa reimagined”. The first FTA with an African economy has been signed last year, Mauritius. We have seen a widening of exchanges – a few days ago even a youth cooperation forum was held in Beijing. We are seeing interest in PPPs and FDI from China to Africa continues to grow in various sectors.

At the same time, over the past year, we have experienced COVID19, which has shaken the entire world. COVID-19 has not only shown itself to be a health risks but also a twin-threat to Africa’s economic growth. To encourage social distancing and control further spreading of the outbreak, governments have ordered schools, shops, restaurants and businesses to temporarily shut down. At the same time, African economies have been affected by the rest of the world’s shut-down – meaning little to no tourism, less demand for their goods, and so on.

African governments have been working hard to counter these impacts – for instance my firm has calculated that 220 policies and measures have been introduced to support poor and vulnerable people, expected to reach over 175 million people in total. This is in the context of a comparable economy to China’s in the 1990s… still a great deal of poverty, dependency on rural economy and informality in the urban areas. I think we can all agree that they have done very very well so far.

These measures have protected people and jobs – but also come at a cost – my firm has estimated that 68bn USD so far has been budgeted by African governments to deal with COVID19’s effect.

Of course China has played a key part in this, not just sending medical teams to a wide variety of African countries, but also the initiative of the Alibaba foundation in partnership with Ethiopian airlines – valued at over $200m USD – to send medical equipment including testing kits was an excellent joint venture innovation that I hope can be regularly continued as we go forward into 2021. China’s engagement in the G20 debt service suspension initiative has also been welcome, and the more that announcements can be made about this the better it will bolster Africa’s case that support to the continent is an investment, not a cost.

But now, lets’ look to the future, how can FOCAC at 20, an adult, address this new post-COVID19 era, building forward, strengthening its resilience in this ever more complex world? Those 5 suggestions I made two years ago remain extremely relevant, except perhaps they require even more hard work, more determination.

The fact is, the cooperation via FOCAC must continue. Growth in African economies needs to resume as quickly as possible, both to fight COVID19 but also resume the fight to meet the UN sustainable development goals, which were going to be a huge stretch for Africa prior to covid19. Let me remind this audience that while China is a huge inspiration for Africa in poverty reduction achievements – with on average 20 million people coming out of poverty every year, if Africa as a whole is to meet the SDGs by 2030 – 40 million – double China’s amount need to come out of poverty every year. Via FOCAC, China can be Africa’s key partner in doing that, but it will require significantly more direction from African leaders, from African organisations such as the AU to drive it forward. Africa now has the Africa continental free trade agreement – more cross-African institutions are being planned over the next 10 years. FOCAC represents an opportunity to embrace this, actively listen, actively support African leadership and progress.

This last point is really crucial and this is where I want to end.

Before COVID19, much of the world expected Africa to fail against the fight against COVID19. They were wrong, but these risk averse perspectives prevail everything. These views are why Africa is an under-invested and poorly-invested destination. They are not African views. African views must prevail and drive the cooperation with China via FOCAC.

In this respect, More finance for Africa is a priority – loans and FDI, including through PPPs and especially for green and digital development. More high-value exports from Africa to the world is a priority. And more movement of African business people to China and Chinese people to Africa as tourists and investors is also crucial. 

FOCAC at 20 offers an opportunity for us to look back and also look forward. 20 years ago African leaders encouraged China to create FOCAC to support them. It has proved in China’s interest. Continuing to do so will prove a continued positive investment.

Thank you all for your attention.

***The End***


For more information visit China.org.cn- “China-Africa ties witness all-round development under FOCAC

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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.


    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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.