ADDIS ABABA, May 31 (Xinhua) -- The China-Africa Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership platform has provided Africa a multi-directional model of cooperation, said former Ethiopian foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin.
"China's model of engagement, which is different from the western framework or cooperation, brings new dynamics, enabling African states to have choices between the two or even to craft a strategy combining both," said Seyoum, who is Chairman of the Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation (CDRC), an independent Ethiopia-based nonprofit think tank.
Seyoum, who was also Ethiopia's former minister of foreign affairs, made the remarks during the Belt and Road Dialogue for China-Africa Cooperation, which was jointly organized by the African Union (AU) and the Chinese Mission to the AU in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa late Thursday.
"Only a comparative analysis of the situation before the China-Africa cooperation began, in contrast with the new trend, suffices to show how much the cooperation matters," Seyoum said
"We should constantly remind ourselves that the colonial escapade left the African continent with meager infrastructure, developed largely to facilitate the desire to appropriate resources and ascertain extended rule," he said.
"This centuries-old exploitation not only left Africans impoverished and ignorant, but Africa was also pegged politically and economically as dependent on these unfairly organized asymmetric relations," he added.
"If one analyses the Africa-China cooperation and what this relationship has delivered, it provides a different perspective," Seyoum said, adding that China's role has to be viewed first from the perspective of the choices that the new relationship provides for Africa and the opportunities it offers to China.
Seyoum, also Ethiopia's former ambassador to China, stressed that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, since its inception some six years ago, "has been a constant point of discussion, capturing the imagination and interest of the global community. It is correctly dubbed as project of the century."
The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road which are designed to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.
According to Seyoum, the BRI "not only revives ancient trade routes between Asia and Europe, but also builds new links interconnecting the Middle East, South America and Africa."
Seyoum further emphasized the BRI's importance to Africa and the rest of the world due to its "geo-political implications and, more importantly, the cooperation framework the initiative presents to the developing world."