With the advent of New Year, it is an opportune time to look back at the China-Africa relationship in 2018 as well as looking ahead to the prospects for 2019.
By all accounts, 2018 was a year of massive events for Sino-African cooperation. A slew of engagements that included state visits to the continent by Chinese President Xi Jinping in July, along with the BRICS Summit in the same month and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit in September, stood out as highlights in their far reaching positive effects for Sino-African ties.
The ongoing Belt and Road Initiative rolled out much needed infrastructure across the length and breadth of the continent, and is expected to continue doing so in 2019, geared toward strengthening intra-regional trade and attracting trade and investment toward Africa.
A further prospect will be the next China International Import Expo, which was a major success in its first launch late last year. Hopes are pinned on this annual event toward balancing the trade between China and Africa by offering more channels for African products to go into the Chinese market.
Apart from trade, investment and infrastructure, the major pillars of the Sino-African relationship, is the all-important area of people-to-people exchanges that are set to accelerate in 2019. An area of cooperation that often takes a back seat to economic issues, the value of creating cultural understanding through these exchanges can never be underestimated. The growing number of training and scholarship opportunities for thousands of Africans in China augers well for much needed African skills and technology advancement.
Ultimately, the China-Africa relationship is not just about trade. It is very much a partnership that is synchronized with the continent's own development goals, such as the AU Agenda 2063 and the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
The trend for 2019, therefore, will see Chinese and African leaders continue their commitment to develop Sino-African relations in a way that sees the continent's interests being accurately reflected.