A Chinese engineer works with his Kenyan colleague at the Mombassa super bridge of the Standard gauge railway (SGR) project, in Mombassa, Kenya, on Sept. 1, 2016. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
NAIROBI, April 20 (Xinhua) -- African countries require Chinese expertise, technology and financial resources to accelerate the next phase of socio-economic transformation, a researcher has said.
Executive Director of Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Professor Lemma Senbet, told Xinhua in a recent interview that China's robust engagement with the world's second largest continent has been a game changer in many spheres.
"I regard Chinese engagement with Africa as really transformational both in trade, investments and infrastructure development, there has been positive impact on Africa's growth trajectory," Senbet said.
The Ethiopian born scholar was optimistic that the current geopolitical shockwaves linked to economic nationalism and isolationism in the west will not affect Sino-Africa bilateral cooperation.
He said China has eclipsed traditional African allies in the West to become the leading source of foreign direct investments in the continent.
At the same time, the Asian giant has become the leading trading partner with Africa, a feat credited for the continent's stellar economic growth in the last two decades.
Chinese conductor Ding Jihua (L) trains the Ethiopian attendants at a railway station in suburban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 1, 2016. A Chinese-built railway linking the Ethiopian capital and the port of Djibouti is expected to help the landlocked African country improve access to the sea and speed up a burgeoning industrialization process. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
Senbet refuted claims that China was only interested with Africa's natural resources and emphasized that Sino-Africa partnership has been framed around mutual respect and pursuit of common aspirations.
"Basically some people think of natural resources when it comes to China's engagement with Africa yet the country is strong in trade, retail and financial services sector in Africa," said Senbet.
He said African countries should court China as they embark on economic diversification, regional integration and strengthening of political institutions.
Senbet hailed China's investment in modern infrastructure projects across Africa saying the move will hasten the continent's economic development through robust trade and investments.
"China's investments in this continent's infrastructure have been huge. For instance, the Nairobi-Mombasa railway has impacted positively on regional integration," Senbet said.
He added that African countries will benefit immensely from creation of Belt and Road Initiative envisioned by Chinese leaders to revive ancient trading routes.
The initiative is "playing the role of enhancing economic integration of African countries," Senbet said while hailing China's investment in Africa's modern industrial parks.
A train runs on the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway during a test run near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Oct. 3, 2016. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
African countries require Chinese soft loans and grants to support infrastructure development and modernization of social sectors like education and health.
Senbet noted that investments in Africa's knowledge-based economy as opposed to financial aid would sustain the continent's renaissance for the long haul.
He emphasized that China should help African countries strengthen their capacity to harness local expertise and resources in order to propel growth.
The scholar singled out technology transfer as an area that would unleash optimum benefits to both China and Africa.
African countries should forge strong partnership with China in areas that advance democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
Senbet reiterated that African countries can borrow lessons from China to strengthen their political institutions and shield them from internal and external shocks.