What does Africa want from China-Africa relations?
Straight Talk

Editor's note: A post-COVID-19 world is bound to be different. The pandemic has made profound changes to the global economy and international relations. But are the changes for the better or worse? This four-episode Straight Talk series looks at where China and its relations with the world are headed. Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined, an international development consultancy based in Beijing, also former head of policy and partnerships for the United Nations Development Program in China, explains what African nations want from China-Africa relations. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN. The first one would be economic recovery and specifically a green economic recovery. 

Now, many African countries – we estimated that in 2020, a number of African governments – a majority of them provided support to their citizens for dealing with COVID-19. Those support measures were designed to reach 175 million people – that's significant. 

But how to make those measures support the economies in the longer term as well and help citizens to transform and lift themselves out of poverty – that is a real challenge.

So how can African governments work with China to do those types of activities, extend those sorts of programs that will be very crucial, and including through things like infrastructure building and making sure that Africans, for example, get employed on existing infrastructure building projects that will really help for economic recovery. 

The second area is finance. And note I'm not saying it’s debt.  

In fact, the key challenge here is the African economy is, despite COVID-19, still do not have enough access to finance to support their long-term structural development needs.  

So the question for the discussion with China is: How can China still continue to support African economies as it has been doing with extra finance for things like new infrastructure, new industrial parks, loans to build all of these and so that they can build for a future structural transformation of their economies, how to make sure that China can continue to do that?  

Now that's a difficult question. China also had its own challenges in terms of economic contraction because of COVID-19, but China is now expected to grow much faster than the rest of the world. So, if there's one partner that can help on this and remain consistent, it's got to be China. 

Last, but not least, is this question of – and I know China has set it out as vaccines – the way I would suggest or reframe it is about people movement. How do African economies ensure more people movement in 2021? Why is that important?  

If they do not have vaccines for their citizens and at least a minimum level of vaccines to be able to help key workers, for instance, in these different industries, how can Africans themselves be able to travel not just to Africa, but also to their existing markets?  

So again, it's all about economic recovery fundamentally and trying to move forward as quickly as possible. While the health challenge in Africa has not been as strong, the vaccines will again determine how quickly Africa can recover.  

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