Ghanaian Internet celebrity in Beijing bridges China and Africa
Updated 16:56, 04-Sep-2018
By Li Jianhua
For years, Berthold Ackon from Ghana has dedicated himself to settling misunderstandings between China and Africa by making videos on Youtube. With a viewership of over 70 million, Ackon serves as a communications link between the two sides.
Covering a variety of topics, Berthold said his aim is to bridge African and Chinese cultures.
"I've changed a lot of people's perceptions about China, and also I've changed a lot of Chinese people's perceptions about Africa. I have a friend here in China. The guy wasn't my friend, but after watching my videos, he became my friend and he was like take me to Africa," said Berthold Ackon.
Berth says it is through his travels that he can reach out to more people, which gives him a deeper understanding of both Chinese and African cultures. Ackon quit his job a year ago so that he could concentrate on his efforts to change people's views on China and Africa.
Berthold Ackon talks to the CGTN. /CGTN Photo

Berthold Ackon talks to the CGTN. /CGTN Photo

"This year, I'm giving myself one year just to travel more, and go to different parts of Africa, like all countries of Africa. I wish, if I had the power, I'll visit every country of Africa to make videos. I just came back from a trip around China. That one is easy. You know, you go and come back just to show what is happening in China. That's it," said Ackon.

People-to-people exchanges between China and Africa

During the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2015, Chinese and African leaders vowed to promote people-to-people exchanges, along with collaboration in the areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty alleviation, public health, and security.
"China and Africa cooperation happens in many perspectives, not only in the trade and investment, (under) the economic framework, but also in many other aspects, such as in the fields of cultural, education, science and technology, sports and health, think tanks and tourism," said Professor Zhang Yanqiu with the Communication University of China.
Case in point is the launch of people-to-people exchanges mechanism between China and South Africa in April 2017. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong went on record saying this would play an important role in enhancing China-South African relations and facilitating South-South Cooperation. And it's been a year since the two countries inked the agreement.
A sign advertising home internet services sits on display outside the head office of Telkom SA SOC Ltd. in the Centurion district of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 25, 2017. /VCG Photo

A sign advertising home internet services sits on display outside the head office of Telkom SA SOC Ltd. in the Centurion district of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 25, 2017. /VCG Photo

"The mechanism has increased opportunities for stronger engagements between non-state actors such as the academia and researchers of the two countries," said Manelisi Genge, Chief Director of East Asia and Oceania with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa.
Genge hoped other African countries can borrow the good practices derived from this engagement and customize according to national priorities to deepen bilateral relationships with China.
Many have scrutinized China's role in the relationship, with accusations that China is a neo-colonist in Africa. Other criticism is economic in nature, including the claim that African markets are harmed by cheap and substandard Chinese-made products, which put great competitive pressure on local industries and businesses.
"To my knowledge, (China) is not colonizing any country in Africa. How can they have the audacity to suggest that China is doing that? In any event, we are smart enough to understand, who is who, what is what, so we choose our friends with deliberateness and focus," said Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana.