Global partnerships discussed at AEC meeting
Fantu Cheru, NAI’s Research Director, participated in the African Economic Conference in Tunis, Tunisia on October 27-29. This year’s conference was organized around the theme ‘Setting the agenda for Africa’s Economic Recovery and Long-term Growth’.
Focusing primarily on India and China, Fantu Cheru spoke at the opening plenary panel on the subject of ‘Harnessing Global Partnerships for Africa’s Development (old and new)’.
Fantu Cheru argued that contrary to many Western observers, India and China regard the African continent as dynamic, with unlimited business opportunities. The recent roles they have played in terms of filling the infrastructure gap in Africa have clearly made a great impact on Africa’s attitudes towards the two countries.
Moreover, China and India’s own experience of economic development and the role played by the state in that process have been of interest for many African governments.
Yet, Fantu Cheru pointed out that the relationship has benefits as well as risks. He mentioned a number of areas of tensions such as the relationship’s direct impact on Africa’s domestic market, the problem of employment and labour standards as well as the poor environmental track record of China and India’s engagements in Africa.
According to Fantu Cheru, the lack of a roadmap and clear strategies as to how to engage with India and China is preventing any greater benefits stemming from the partnership. In particular, he noted the importance of establishing regional frameworks in order for African states to engage with China and India from a stronger and better informed platform. He emphasised that it is up to the African governments to form such frameworks and common strategies.
The African Development Bank launched the annual African Economic Conference in November 2006. The AEC is a platform for professional discourse and debate that seeks to address Africa’s development challenges, bringing together researchers, policy makers, and development practitioners.