The transfer of know-how at the heart of China-Africa pragmatic cooperation

Boubacar Diallo

China is poised to strengthen the transfer of technology to its African partners to accelerate the diversification of their economies, which is essential for a healthy, sustainable and pragmatic development of China-Africa cooperation.

“All African countries are trying to diversify their economies by rejecting growth guaranteed only by the export of raw materials,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in mid-January after official visit to Africa.

The economic situation in Central Africa is a good illustration of the Chinese chief of diplomacy. Given the drop in oil prices since the end of 2014, the sub-region is struggling to maintain its growth. According to the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), the year 2017 ends with zero growth in real terms in the sub-region, after a negative rate of -0.2% in 2016.

Social problems such as unemployment result, and “an economic crisis turns into a general crisis,” said Philippe-Blaise Essomba, director of the Department of History of the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon, in an interview granted to Xinhua.

“A diversified economy is the key to getting out of the crisis, policy makers are aware of it,” he said. “But very often, lack of funding and technology, these countries do not have enough means to strengthen their economic resilience. There, China has a role to play.

As one of Africa’s leading financial partners, China is now more involved in the transfer of know-how to this emerging continent. “China is capable of becoming a reliable and ideal partner for Africa in its industrialization and economic diversification,” Wang Yi said.

Already in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about the importance of Sino-African technical cooperation during his visit to Tanzania.

“In terms of cooperation with Africa, we are talking about pragmatism […] It is better to learn to fish than to give fish […]. China is ready to strengthen technology transfer and exchange of experience with Africa, “said Xi in March 2013, who had visited three African countries during his first visit abroad after taking office as head of state.

“In terms of cooperation with Africa, we are talking about pragmatism […] It is better to learn to fish than to give fish […]. China is ready to strengthen technology transfer and exchange of experience with Africa, “said Xi in March 2013, who had visited three African countries during his first visit abroad after taking office as head of state.

This pragmatic commitment has borne fruit. During a media tour of Chinese projects in Cameroon, a journalist from the Cameroon daily Mutations made his own observations: “At the time of the visit [to the Memve’ele power station], two Cameroonian engineers are being trained to take over the operations […]. The transfer of technology is also the other important project of Sino-Cameroonian cooperation “.

Chinese know-how is not only advanced technology, but also the solid pragmatic experience in development. For example, the Chinese company China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), responsible for the construction of Cameroon’s first deep-water port, plans to create an industrial park near this port in Kribi (south), so that “the Cameroonian industry draws on China’s development experience, and that ‘Made in Cameroon’ products are massively consumed in international markets, “said CHAU’s sub-regional head, Xu Huajiang, in Xinhua.

“China is a chance, a real boon to Africa […]. With China and its win-win partnership, Africa will learn to fish for its own fish instead of waiting for others to offer them containers, “wrote Etienne Tayo Demandou, expert Cameroonian Political Science.

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