Academics and Politicians Unite to Urge Chinese Investment in East African Industries
Collaborative Efforts to Boost Technological Advancements
Dar es Salaam, Academics and politicians have joined forces in an effort to attract Chinese investors to bolster the technological growth of the regional industrial sector in East African countries. Speaking at the 10th Anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) conference in Dar es Salaam, participants emphasized the need for China’s expertise to accelerate the development of nascent industries within the bloc.
The bilateral trade volume between Tanzania and China has surged to an impressive 8.31 billion US dollars (approximately 20 trillion Tanzanian shillings) in 2022, a direct outcome of the effective implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. This visionary initiative, introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping a decade ago, aims to connect Europe, Asia, and Africa through enhanced economic connectivity.
The Belt and Road Initiative, often abbreviated as BRI, consists of the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road. Its overarching goal is to amplify economic connectivity by uniting 47 percent of the global population, 23 percent of the world’s GDP, and an extensive range of natural resources.
Expert Opinions on the Path Forward
Joramu Nkumbi, Director of the PLO Lumumba Institute, provided valuable insights during the conference. Nkumbi noted that the decade of BRI’s existence has already yielded positive outcomes for its participating members. He strongly advocated for increased Chinese investment in industries within the East African Community (EAC) to fuel collective economic growth and development.
Nkumbi expressed, “By establishing factories in Tanzania, China can meld its technological prowess with our Tanzanian expertise. This collaboration will undoubtedly catalyze technological advancement within our EAC countries and contribute to our economic prosperity.”
Kennedy Walusala, a member of the Forum of Civil Organisations in Kenya, drew a historical parallel between China’s remarkable rise from poverty to global prominence and the potential for East Africa to replicate such success. Walusala urged introspection among EAC member countries, emphasizing the need for cohesive strategies when engaging with China.
Walusala questioned, *”While established players like Japan, China, and the European Union have held Africa-centric strategies for over a century, have we in the EAC similarly aligned ourselves?”* He encouraged the bloc to forge a unified agenda, recognizing it as a key step towards achieving collective aspirations.
Import-Export Disparity and the Path Ahead
Addressing the trade dynamics within Africa, Nkumbi highlighted the trade deficit where African nations import considerably more products than they export, particularly from countries like China. He noted the importance of aligning EAC nations around a shared agenda that prioritizes technological growth and self-sufficiency, ultimately transforming Africa into a net exporter rather than a consumer.
As the Belt and Road Initiative commemorates its 10th anniversary, the call for increased Chinese investment in East African industries resonates strongly. Academics and politicians emphasize the imperative to leverage China’s industrial expertise to fuel the growth of burgeoning sectors within the region. The remarkable bilateral trade volume between Tanzania and China stands as a testament to the initiative’s efficacy. However, the spotlight is now on East African countries to harness this momentum and ensure cohesive strategies that pave the way for technological advancements, economic prosperity, and sustainable growth.
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