Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Obasanjo gives recipe for global peace, security; wants China-Africa trade conducted in Yuan

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A solidly-built China-Africa relation would serve as a basis for global peace, security and stability, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Wednesday in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China.

“If China-Africa relations, friendship and cooperation are built on solid rock with mutual interest, respect, understanding and appreciation, we will serve as a basis for peace, security and stability in the world,” he told the 2nd China-Africa Peoples’ Forum.

He told the forum that had in attendance many African leaders and their Chinese counterparts that world peace and security is the responsibility of all of mankind and noted that without peace and security, economic activities would be impaired and prosperity would be unattainable.

Mr. Obasanjo also called for increased involvement of China in Africa’s infrastructural development and greater Chinese investment in Africa particularly in partnership with Africans.

The former president also suggested that China and Africa’s economies would be greatly interwoven and mutual interests enhanced if there was greater Chinese investment in productive ventures in Africa.

This, he said, can be done either solely by Chinese enterprises and entrepreneurs and Chinese national or provincial governments or in partnership with African investors and entrepreneurs.

“Why can’t we trade in Yuan between China and Africa?’’ he queried.

He noted also that over the last 15 years, with the quickening of the rate of economic development in China, its relation and cooperation with Africa moved to a higher level of increased trading and economic transactions, particularly in the area of building and construction and commodities.

Twenty years ago, trade between China and Africa was less than 10 billion dollars; in 2011 it was more than 166 billion dollars.

Mr. Obasanjo particularly called for increased collaboration in the areas of education, health and culture.

“African students have enjoyed scholarships from China to study in Chinese institutions; we need more of it and we need the provision of more Chinese teachers to teach Chinese language in African educational institutions.

“This need is not a one-way affair. Chinese students can study in African universities.

“Such exchanges are secure investments to enhance and stabilise our relations in future. It is also good for people-to-people friendship, cooperation and for building long-lasting relations,” he said.

Turning to his African counterparts, Mr. Obasanjo said one lesson that Africa must learn from China is that economic development cannot go at a high rate without basic infrastructure.

“Learning the lesson is one thing; doing something about it is another. Our strategic partnership should see China and Africa doing something positive about infrastructure deficit in Africa.’’

A Chinese non-governmental organisation, Network for International Exchanges, packaged the forum with the theme: People’s Voice, People’s Friendship and Cooperation for the People.

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