The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has proven to be productive and effective in boosting China-Africa cooperation, a Chinese special envoy said.
Zhou Yuxiao, China’s ambassador for FOCAC affairs, said this in an interview with Xinhua prior to the FOCAC Beijing Summit in September, expressing his confidence in the event’s success.
Zhou said FOCAC has grown into a dynamic mechanism with rich content and tangible results, following the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and the values of friendship, justice, and shared interests.
“China neither imposes its own will on others nor seeks its sphere of influence,” said Zhou.
“The concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits’ is upheld when China cooperates with African countries.”
FOCAC was founded in 2000 and its membership had grown to have China, 53 African countries having diplomatic relations with China, and the African Union Commission as of June 2018, according to the FOCAC website.
Under the FOCAC framework, there are regular consultations at ministerial and senior-official levels, and between the Chinese Follow-up Committee and the African Diplomatic Corps in China.
Sub-forums on business, youth, health and poverty reduction, and many others, have also been set up.
FOCAC has held two summits gathering leaders of China and African countries, one in Beijing in 2006 and another in Johannesburg in 2015.
“FOCAC is not for idle words, but a platform to unleash real actions,” said Zhou.
The veteran diplomat, who spent years in Africa and served as the Chinese ambassadors to Liberia and Zambia, said he had witnessed the development of FOCAC over the years.
It began with small steps, with a focus on aid, trade, debt relief, personnel training but gradually grew to a comprehensive platform that covers industrialization, agricultural modernization, financing, green development, people-to-people exchanges, and security.
Zhou said FOCAC has won wide support from African countries for its efficient enforcement means, clear time-bound action plans, and an effective evaluation system.
He also attributed the mechanism’s effectiveness to the adequate funding.
For example, Zhou said, China pledged financing support amounting to 60 billion U.S. dollars to implement the ten cooperation plans announced at the 2015 FOCAC summit in Johannesburg.
Projects can also be funded by the Silk Road Fund or the BRICS New Development Bank.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government encourages trustworthy and competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa.
Both China’s ability to “walk the walk” and African countries’ active collaboration are key to the success of FOCAC, Zhou said.
“That is why FOCAC has earned wide recognition from African countries as well as the international community, and expectations are high for the upcoming summit,” said Zhou.
The summit is scheduled for Sept. 3 to Sept. 4 in Beijing. Priorities and key directions for China-Africa cooperation in the next three years will be announced.
A key aspect to watch, Zhou said, will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development plans.
With the “twin engines” of the BRI and FOCAC, China-Africa cooperation is poised to move forward more steadily, faster and further.
“I’m confident that the summit will be a complete success,” said Zhou.
No fewer than 40 million Nigerians in 200 communities across the country are being deprived access to the internet, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said on Monday.
The Executive Vice Chairman at the commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, who made the disclosure while declaring open the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Annual Regional Workshop in Abuja, said the development was as a result of coverage gap in the communities.
According to Danbatta, the NCC was making efforts to bridge the gap in the communities in no time.
“Access is very important. Talking about access, I don’t know the experience in other parts of the world especially the Africa continent but here in Nigeria, we have 200 access gaps and we know where these gaps are.
“These access gaps deprive close to 40 million people access to the internet. We need to look at what we can do to fast-track blocking these access gaps, because unless and until we do so, many of our citizens will continue to live without access to the internet, especially the right kind of internet connectivity.”
“We are trying to make sure we are not left out in benefiting from the various important features of the fourth industrial revolution. While we are doing this, we are taking cognisance of the elements of digital transformation system because we have to start somewhere,” he said.
The NCC boss decried the poor internet speed in the country, pointing out that the standard for internet speed in the country, which is 1.5 megabytes per second, was only obtainable in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
He said the local government he hails from has a connectivity speed of 500 kilobytes per second, adding that the inability of some locations in the country to have the standard 1.5 megabytes per second internet connectivity speed was attributable to poor infrastructure.
Danbatta charged the workshop to come up with ideas on how to tackle the problem.
The Federal Government has unveiled eight firms that will begin the exploration of minerals under the Integrated Exploration Project (IEP).
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, disclosed this recently in Abuja while launching the first IEP which is under the Natural Resources Fund.
According to him, the eight firms emerged winners of bid for the exploration project.
The minister said the project would be executed by his ministry, stressing that Nigeria’s abundant resources cannot remain untapped.
Bwari said it was imperative for the ministry to contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy by industrialising minerals for local consumption and import substitution, using metallic minerals for generating foreign exchange and energy minerals for power generation.
“This integrated project is therefore long overdue, and its success will be critical in determining how far government can go in its efforts to reposition the sector.
“Actually, the credibility of this ministry, as well as the seriousness with which the international community will evaluate our effort at becoming a viable mining jurisdiction will be dependent on the way we handle this critical project.
“At this juncture, we want to particularly thank all who worked hard to make this event possible. We expect maximum commitment in the execution of this project because a lot is at stake,” the minister said.
The minister urged the National Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), which will be supervising the project on behalf of the ministry, to strictly adhere to the job specifications and contractual agreements on a duration of 12 months and also ensure adequate employment of local expertise.
“I therefore, expect regular updates on work progress, particularly from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency which will be supervising this project on behalf of the Ministry. I urge you to strictly adhere to the job specifications and contractual agreements stipulated in the terms of engagement while also ensuring that local expertise is adequately employed,” he added.