Key Facts and Projects: Reimagining FOCAC engagement in a post-COVID-19 world

FOCAC 2021- Bridging Partnerships for Deeper Cooperation

Since the first Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, the China-Africa relationship has grown significantly, both in size and scope. FOCAC has been instrumental in coordinating and progressing the relationship, with a number of important agreements being announced during previous FOCAC meetings.

For example, China’s loan commitment increased from US$5 billion in 2006 to US$10 billion in 2009, US$20 billion in 2012, US$35bn in 2015 and US$60bn in 2018. China also committed to training 10,000 African personnel in various fields in 2003, 15,000 in 2006, 20,000 in 2009 and 30,000 in 2012. At the 2003 FOCAC, China announced a decision to grant zero-tariff treatment to exports from least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa. In 2006 China announced it would set up 10 agricultural demonstration centers across Africa, and increased this to 30 in 2009, in partnership with the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The US$5 billion China-Africa Development Fund announced at the 2006 FOCAC summit, has since been increased to $10bn, and has supported Chinese investment in Africa, including 6 Special Economic Zones in 5 African countries: Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mauritius and Egypt. And finally, in 2018, President Xi announced 8 initiatives for China-Africa cooperation going forward. These included industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green developments, capacity building, healthcare, people to people exchanges, and peace and security.

The year of 2021 will witness the 8th FOCAC to be held in Senegal in the fourth quarter. The context around FOCAC has changed dramatically, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is critical to assess the updated cooperation needs from the African side and their expectations towards China. China can be key partner for Africa to achieve the SDGs, but it will require significantly more direction from African leaders and from African organisations such as the AU to drive it forward. Africa now has the Africa continental free trade agreement and 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.

At Development Reimagined, we firmly believe Africa’s own development plans and priorities should be highly valued by the Chinese side (and all development partners) and the government and private sector must develop cooperation measures with African demands and needs aligned.

Development Reimagined is therefore working with a range of partners, from African & Chinese Governments, to the United Nations, and the Gates Foundation to support African leaders to develop their strategic priorities for FOCAC 2021 and ultimately support poverty reduction efforts in African countries through partnerships and “win-win” bilateral and multilateral relationships with China. Our work draws on Development Reimagined’s unique network of African diplomats, policymakers and other experts, and DR’s trusted role in China, and highly well-regarded portfolio of China and Africa research to disseminate a series of original, topical research and innovative capacity building activities related to African countries’ existing and future relationships with China.

What projects are the Development Reimagined team working on around FOCAC 2021?

2021 Ambassadors Retreat

Between the 9 & 10 September 2021, Development Reimagined hosted the second virtual African Ambassadors in China retreat to engage and share ideas regarding the forthcoming FOCAC meeting. The retreat covered three major thematic areas in China- Africa cooperation- agriculture, health and infrastructure development. Read More >

2021 African Ambassadors Dinner Gala & Celebration

On 28 October 2021, Development Reimagined organized the “2021 African Ambassadors Gala Dinner” in Beijing. The dinner provided a unique and relaxed platform for African Ambassadors, African leaders and Chinese partners to come together and reflect on the upcoming FOCAC 2021 and review how FOCAC can support poverty reduction efforts in African countries through partnerships and “win-win” cooperation with China. Read More >

African Needs Facilitation with CAITEC

In July 2021, Development Reimagined supported the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) with a consultation meeting with African Embassies on “African needs assessment under FOCAC”. The consultations focused on progress, challenges and opportunities on cooperation in health and agriculture. Read More >

UNAids Dialogue on China- Africa Health Cooperation

In September 2021, Development Reimagined supported UNaids on the virtual dialogue on China-Africa health cooperation under FOCAC. The dialogue brought together a number of VIP speakers from Africa and China to explore challenges in health cooperation. Read More >>

Exploring the Role of Digital Cooperation in FOCAC 2021

Speech exploring how a China-Africa Digital Cooperation Initiative included in the next FOCAC Plan of Action. Read more >>

From China-Africa to Africa-China: A Blueprint for a Green and Inclusive Continent-Wide African Strategy towards China

This report attempts to craft a comprehensive strategy for what African countries should – or at least could – be trying to get out of the China relationship. Read More>>

FOCAC Preparation Reports

  1. “Reimagine FOCAC Going Forwards”. Read here >>>
  2. Deepdive: Agricultural Cooperation Under the FOCAC Umbrella. Read here >>>
  3. Deepdive: Health Cooperation Under the FOCAC Umbrella. Read here >>>

Want to find out more? Contact the team at

November 2021

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