By Staff Reporter

Beijing, 7 December 2022 (ECA) – Oliver Chinganya, Director of the African Centre for Statistics at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), provides opening remarks at the African Ambassadors Retreat held in Beijing from 6 to 7 December 2022. Highlighting the value of Africa’s relationship with China, with the partnership playing a critical role in Africa building infrastructure, which has reduced the cost of trade, including trade of food and fertilizer across the continent and created new markets.

Moving forward, he expressed, “we need leadership, common action and geo-strategic engagement that is focused and well targeted, in which we use our bargaining power effectively. We must do this with China. Our market of 1.3 billion people is not just a market. It is a continent of people power, a continent of workers.”

ECA stands ready to support both African and Chinese stakeholders in facilitating the shifts on trade and investment, sharing lessons across the continent on manufacturing, e-commerce or regional energy pooling, as well as on policies to best bolster collective and strategic engagement with China.

Mr. Chinganya spoke on day two of the African Ambassadors Retreat, organized by Development Reimagined, an African-led international development consultancy, at the  Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Beijing, China. The Retreat aims to provide space for African Ambassadors to discuss and evaluate the implementation of the outcomes of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation; support more efficient and effective China-Africa development cooperation; articulate needs for support for the work of African Ambassadors and diplomats in China.

The retreat included high-level speakers such as H.E. Rahamtalla Osman, the African Union Permanent Representative to China, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat and Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import bank.

Reflecting on the two-day retreat, H.E. Martin Mpana, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to China and the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in China, provided several lessons learned, including the need for Africa to rethink its trade model with China noting Africa must trade as a block so countries can work together in exporting more value-added products and shared benefits; leverage e-commerce and the Pan-African Payment System; engage with Chinese partners to learn how to empower small and medium enterprises through technology and other trade benefits so that they can access the Chinese market.