How can both African and Chinese policy makers ensure that the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) contributes to supporting African countries to achieve their development goals sustainably? A new report by Development Reimagined (DR), as the first ever African- led evaluation of FOCAC, seeks to explore this question by analysing both the context for FOCAC and also what FOCAC should ideally aim to achieve in 2021 and beyond.
“FOCAC is the longest and the most important standing mechanism for cooperation between China and Africa” highlights the lead authors of the report, Hannah Ryder, DR CEO and Patrick Anam, DR analyst and expert on Trade Law. “However, it is essential that African countries – and Chinese counterparts – take stock of the past FOCAC engagements, commitments and outcomes with a view to coming up with new solutions and ideas that take account of the post-COVID19 reality.”
First, the report sets out 5 reasons why China cooperates with African countries, and 7 reasons why African countries cooperate with China. The report then identifies and charts how FOCAC has evolved over time, incorporating more than 40 topics and issues. The report finds that with the wide range of topics, FOCAC now has direct links to African Continental Frameworks, African Flagship projects as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report also spotlights key differences in collaborative processes with China’s other regional and plurilateral partnerships, as well as Africa’s “plus one summits” – which provide opportunities to advance relationships with other development partners.
The bespoke analysis then explores the question of how FOCAC has met African and Chinese goals by using two case studies of China-Africa cooperation in agriculture and health. The case studies illustrate that while huge progress has been made, cooperation can be improved- through a combination of measures.
Finally, the report proposes six priority gaps and challenges that Chinese and African governments can use for FOCAC 2021 and beyond as an opportunity to tackle, with a view to making improvements to the effectiveness of the collaboration in future, deepening it and ensuring the five and seven “why’s” are met in future. Subsequently 17 opportunities are identified, ranked according to the transformational potential and their feasibility.
Many of the opportunities proposed reflect on the overarching need for African stakeholders to demonstrate more agency through FOCAC as the central coordination mechanism for their cooperation, hence a greater number of the opportunities can be taken forward by African stakeholders, and only a limited number are proposed for Chinese stakeholders on their own.
Overall, there is no doubt that the China-Africa relationship, expressed through FOCAC has had significant impact, not only on broad trade, financial and people flows, but also in specific sectors such as agriculture and health. However, it is up to both African governments and the Chinese government to now ensure that FOCAC further contributes to supporting African countries to achieve their development goals sustainably, now, up to and beyond 2063.
Download the report in English, French and Chinese
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