NAIROBI, May 28 (Xinhua) -- There is need for African countries to have a coherent policy framework as they embark on the next phase of cooperation with China, former Kenyan ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Ngovi Kitau, said.
In a commentary published by the Star newspaper on Monday, Kitau stressed the need for African leaders to spell out their vision for the continent's engagement with China ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit, to be held in Beijing in September.
"The seventh meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is scheduled for this September in Beijing, and there is need for African leaders to craft a clear policy towards China before then," Kitau said.
He said African countries have an opportunity to review their engagement with major powers against a backdrop of shifting geopolitical dynamics.
"Taking into consideration recent major developments in the global arena, it is worthwhile for African leaders to pose two policy questions," said Kitau.
"One, is the time ripe for African leaders to review and leverage on the continent's three largest strategic partners -- China, the European Union and the United States. Two, does the pathway to Africa's long-awaited renaissance pass through Beijing?" he added.
The former envoy noted that China has emerged as a valuable alternative for Africa as Western powers retreat from global stewardship in trade and security amid rising nationalism.
"China is now the real locomotive of the world economy. It is a modern rising power which respects and support other countries," said Kitau.
He hailed progress achieved since the December 2015 FOCAC summit held in Johannesburg that includes improved bilateral trade and enthusiasm by African countries to join China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Kitau said two-way trade has grown more than 40 times to total about 200 billion U.S. dollars in 20 years and China has financed more than 3,000 critical infrastructure projects in Africa.
He noted that six African countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Africa and Sudan, are either members or prospective members of the Beijing-based AIIB.
At the same time, the ex-envoy said, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will complement the newly launched African Continental Free Trade Area.