Chinese engagement helps Africa's industrialization: ITC executive director

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-21 18:07:05|Editor: huaxia
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Arancha Gonzalez, executive director of the International Trade Center, addressed the parallel session "E-commerce in the Digital Era" of the second Hongqiao International Economic Forum in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 5, 2019. (Xinhua file photo/Wang Peng)

Chinese engagement has been providing a helping hand to Africa's endeavor to accelerate industrialization, according to Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Center.

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Amid Africa's growing quest to boost the manufacturing sector, experts from the continent and beyond have commended Chinese engagement in giving Africa a helping hand.

Speaking to Xinhua on Wednesday, Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC), emphasized China's growing engagement and interest in Africa's existing and emerging potential areas was driving the continent's industrialization.

"China has focused a lot of attention to the industrialization of the African continent," the ITC Executive Director told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Africa Industrialization Day commemoration event, which was marked on Wednesday at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) Commission in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

"It (China) has focused a lot in manufacturing," Gonzalez said, as she emphasized other emerging potential areas in the industry sector that are benefiting from and attracting Chinese engagement across Africa.

"First, I think now there is interesting opportunity that is coming in two other sectors, one is agro-processing, so helping Africa transform a lot of the raw materials, agricultural commodities that this continent produces into processed products.

"The second sector, still under leverage in my view, is a big opportunity in the services economy," Gonzalez said, adding investment in the health, education, logistics, and digital connectivity areas will also make a more competitive African economy.

"I was in the Belt and Road summit earlier this year, and I was also in the Shanghai Import Expo more recently. On both occasions, I could see the interest of African countries to connect with Chinese investors, but also the appetite of Chinese investors to move into Africa," Gonzalez said.

A worker busy with her work at the Chinese-built Bole Lemi Industrial Park in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, April 6, 2017. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

The continental industrialization day was commemorated as part of the AU Commission's flagship Africa Industrialization Week (AIW-2019), which is underway from November 18 to 22. The AIW-2019 also emphasized the crucial role of industrial parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to drive Africa's industrialization.

According to Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, an economic advisor to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Chinese-contracted industrial parks that were built in Ethiopia and other African countries "will bring about employment opportunities and revenues to the countries."

"These industrial parks are vital elements of the infrastructure supporting the structural transformation in Ethiopia that can attract international investors," Costantinos told Xinhua.

Costantinos, also a professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, noted that former IMF chief Christine Lagarde had said at the Eastern Industrial Park in Addis Ababa that she had seen the dynamism and enthusiasm of the people working there and the commitment of private investors to Ethiopia.

In Addition to Ethiopia, Chinese-built industrial parks and free trade zones have also taken root in many other African countries such as Djibouti, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, eventually attracting investors into the industrial facilities.