The conference, which was inaugurated in 2000, will help allow the international community to tackle the challenges Africans face to date and offer a platform for dialogue and multilateral deals between participating countries, one analyst says.
Sputnik spoke with Alexander Demissie, founding director of German-based China-Africa Advisory, and co-fouding director Moritz Weigel who offered their expertise and insights on the upcoming event.
Sputnik: Can you tell us a little about your organisation and its role in facilitating projects between China and African nations?
Alexander Demissie: We are an independent Africa and China-focused advisory firm that assists governments, international organizations and businesses in achieving sustainable development in African countries. Building on our expertise in China-Africa relations, low-emission climate-resilient development, research and policy advice, and conference management, we provide knowledge-based services and facilitate partnerships.
Sputnik: The 2018 FOCAC meeting between China and a multitude of international organisations will take place Sept. 3-4. What kind of bilateral agreements do you forecast at the event? How are geopolitical dynamics shifting on the African continent?
Alexander Demissie: The FOCAC Beijing Summit will concentrate mostly on agriculture, infrastructure, science and technology, industrial development and renewable energy, and we expect a number of bilateral agreements between China and African countries in these areas.
African countries are increasingly looking to China for trade, investment and financing. However, we also see increasing engagement from other emerging economies, such as India and Turkey, on the African continent. China's continuous engagement in Africa, in particular regarding infrastructure development, has helped to significantly increase the attractiveness of African countries as destinations for investment over the past decade. In response, we now also see developed countries and global investors reassessing opportunities in Africa.
Sputnik: What are Africa's main challenges at the moment? How does the Belt and Road Initiative help to mitigate these challenges?
Moritz Weigel: Africa's main challenges are infrastructure development and job creation, and in light of future demographic developments, both aspects need attention. The Belt and Road Initiative offers solutions to these problems by creating infrastructure connectivity between African countries, raising the mobility of citizens, which in turn facilitates more economic activity and is hence an important driver of job creation. The Belt and Road Initiative also helps Chinese companies to enter new markets in African countries, which is an additional driver for creating jobs locally in many cases.
Sputnik: On the European side, how is the continent participating in the Belt and Road Initiative? What can Europe contribute and what can it get in return?
Moritz Weigel: So far Europe's engagement in the Belt and Road Initiative is happening mostly at the company level, rather than at the government level. European companies and financial institutions see the Initiative as a business opportunity for deploying technology and contributing know-how and financing. In return, they can strengthen their foothold in newly developing and emerging markets in Belt and Road countries, including on the African continent.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik. The article was amended to issue corrections upon the interviewee's request.