World leaders, international institutions, and company representatives attending the 2nd “Investing in Africa Forum” are calling for innovative ways to rejuvenate economic growth, which coincides with China’s “prescription” for the world at the recent G20 summit.
“I think innovation and making better use of technology is going to be very helpful. I’ve seen it in Africa,” said Haleh Bridi, director of external communications and partnerships at the World Bank Africa region, at the forum taking place on Wednesday in China’s southern city Guangzhou.
Bridi said because of innovation, Africa has moved from being a continent where nobody has a phone to one where almost everybody uses a cell phone.
“This telephone revolution has really changed the face of Africa, and this can happen in so many other sectors, including in education, as you can get the top notch education online today,” Bridi said.
To facilitate the growth of both China and Africa, the World Bank has been actively engaging in forming partnerships between the two parties, and will continue to use its convening power to create a more open environment for both, Bridi said.
As the world economy remains sluggish, leaders worldwide are looking for ways to boost growth. At the recent G20 summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave China’s “prescription” for the world economy.
“We will continue to reinforce macro-policy dialogue and coordination, work in the spirit of partnership to promote mutual help and win-win cooperation, and focus our minds and energy to pursue strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth,” Xi said.
Among the suggestions Xi gave to world leaders, innovation, openness, global economic governance and inclusiveness are the key.
To make economic globalization more inclusive, the Hangzhou summit has put the issue of development front and center in the global macro policy framework. The first action plan has been formulated for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Cooperation is in place to support Africa and the least developed countries in their industrialization.
“The China-Africa collaboration is moving beyond infrastructure development to more at the industrial development. We are looking at how Chinese entities may begin to put industrial facilities and help Africa develop its own production capacity, which is very important,” said Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, Chairman of the Board at Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency.
Robbin-Coker said that Sierra Leone can learn from China’s successful experience in transforming from a labor-intensive processing model to more industrial kind of processing model, and the transfer of technology, skills, and knowledge from China to Africa is a win-win.
“Innovation needs to take place on the continent, it’s critical to borrow best practices and technology from other countries,” said Robbin-Coker.
For Robbin-Coker, the Investing in Africa Forum itself is a sign of openness and inclusiveness that China tries to promote. At the forum, leaders from African countries are sending a collective message to their Chinese friends.
“Our message is clear: Africa is open for business. Africa is open to China in many ways,” said Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.