The following article was translated by Rumeng Chen, China Program Fall 2018 Intern. The original article in can be found here.
African Nations Pay Close Attention to China’s Successful Path
I have visited China many times since the 90s. Every time I visit China, I can feel tremendous changes underway – whether it is the towering skyscrapers or construction sites in progress. All aspects of data confirm my feelings.
While experiencing dramatic changes itself, China is also changing the world. By the end of this year, China’s investment in scientific research is expected to surpass that of the United States, ranking the first in the world. Despite growing doubts about globalization among Western countries, China continues to expand its efforts in addressing global challenges, such as energy and climate change.
China has achieved miracles beyond the reach of any other country over the past several decades, liberating hundreds of millions from a vicious circle of poverty and disease, forming its own modern economic system, and driving global economic growth. Other developing countries in the world, especially many African countries, pay close attention to China’s success path, which attests to the importance of the forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
African nations are at a turning point that presents both challenges and opportunities. Estimates project, Africa’s population will at least double and hit 2.5 billion by 2050. If the young generation in Africa can grow up healthily and receive a good education like Chinese teenagers, they will become a new force driving the economic growth in Africa and changing the status quo on the continent.
Encouragingly, China and Africa have built a deep partnership in the past few decades. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Belt and Road initiative and the formation of the International Development Cooperation Agency have contributed to effective development planning and economic prosperity in African countries by sharing the experience and lessons China learned in its economic transition. China has unique advantages in this regard.
In my view, two things are particularly relevant to economic development in Africa. The first is how to eradicate the diseases and poverty that still persist in many regions in Africa and the second is how to unleash African countries’ potential in agriculture.
Health is of paramount importance. China’s leadership in the field of health innovation is increasingly evident. For example, China has achieved zero cases of native malaria in 2017, as a product of drug innovation and an effective disease monitoring and control system, which is a remarkable achievement. China can provide efficient and affordable solutions to malaria in other developing countries.
Agriculture is another important area in which China can help Africa accelerate its development. In the past few decades, China’s agricultural productivity has grown at a pace four to six times faster than in sub-Saharan Africa’s. Imagine that if Africa can learn from China in terms of its knowledge, experience and resources to achieve a similar agricultural transformation, Africa’s future will be promising. For example, we can use China’s expertise in hybrid rice cultivation to develop rice varieties with higher yields and stronger disease resistance for African farmers; China can also play a more active role in international cooperation in agricultural research to benefit millions of small farmers.
The Gates Foundation will continue to support China in accelerating the pace of innovation and to share its experience in disease monitoring and control with African nations, thereby helping African countries prevent and control malaria and other epidemics. The Foundation will also introduce a series of projects, encouraging Chinses companies to invest in Africa, to make sustainable contributions to healthcare and agricultural development on the continent and improving the lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. Practice in China proves that change is possible and can happen quickly.