China has played a significant role in promoting development in Africa, and its Belt and Road Initiative would allow more African countries to better connect to global trade networks, several scholars told Xinhua in recent interviews.
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes, is a key project being implemented by the Chinese leadership to the benefit of African countries and beyond, said Kioko Mutua, a lecturer at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi.
“For Africa, this is an opportunity to open much more to the world and let the world open to Africa,” said Mutua.
In Africa, it is commonly believed that the initiative is worth supporting because it fits in well with plans by African countries to develop mega infrastructure projects, which are seen as critical to trade, especially increasing exports to the rest of the world.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is the biggest achievement amongst China’s most impressive achievements in the last five years because it would shape the next phase of global trade for ages to come,” said Ken Ogembo, who lectures at Kenyatta University in Kenya.
According to the Kenyan scholar, the Belt and Road Initiative stands to play a key role in balancing global trade and boost China’s image in Africa.
“The coming out of China as a development partner in Africa in particular has endeared it to the people and helped to position its global image and influence,” Ogembo told Xinhua.
Ogembo noted that a survey by CNN last year found that China was more popular than the United States among African students.
In Kenya, a similar study revealed that more people prefer dealing with the Chinese than the Americans.
“China’s overseas engagement has first led people to know who the Chinese are rather than being told, and is also portrayed as caring for the interests of Africa,” Ogembo said.
While expressing appreciation for China’s contribution to Africa’s economic growth and social development, there is a general belief that China should play a bigger role in Africa and in global governance.
“The world expects China to do more in enhancing infrastructure overseas, providing aid to assist in combating diseases, peacekeeping and dealing with natural disasters by virtue of its growing role as a major global player,” said Mutua.