Supporting Africa to Ride the Chinese Lion of Industrialization

Source: UNDP Press Center

Today during the 1st sub-forum of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation on poverty reduction, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), representatives of the Made in Africa Initiative and the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support sustainable and inclusive industrial development in Africa.

The Made in Africa Initiative aims to help African countries capitalize on the experience of China and other Asian economies to identify their comparative advantage and capture the window of opportunity for industrialisation. Furthermore, by bridging the gap in information the initiative will work with African countries, prospective Chinese investors and international buyers to generate quick successes in export orientated manufacturing, whilst at the same time promoting inclusive and sustainable development.

Agi Veres, Country director of UNDP China, noted the importance of this partnership stating: “Launching just days after the Forum of China and Africa Cooperation Summit (FOCAC) which established sustainable and green industrialisation as a major priority for Africa-China partnership going forward, UNDP’s support to the Made in Africa Initiative will help African countries grasp the opportunity of global economic transformation to develop inclusive business in Africa. This, we believe, will also contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

The collaboration on Made in Africa Initiative aims to better align the Initiative with sustainable business development in Africa. UNDP will support the Initiative in line with its pioneering and increasing efforts to facilitate and improve China’s South-South and Global Cooperation since a MOU was signed with the Chinese government on this in 2010, and provide key findings and recommendations from a soon-to-be released comparative study on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Africa and China.

Helen Hai, CEO of the Made in Africa Initiative, discussed the potential of the collaboration: “This joint effort will create quick successes for generating decent jobs and dynamic growth, providing aspiration and snowballing effects on poverty reduction and structural transformation in Africa.”

Justin Lin, Chair of the Made in Africa Initiative’s Advisory Board and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, highlighted the significance of this cooperation: ”The global relocation of light manufacturing occurs every 20 or 30 years. Whichever country captures this window of opportunity will grow dynamically for several decades and become a middle- or even high-income country. There are 85 million jobs in light manufacturing to be relocated from China. This is an opportunity that the African continent cannot miss in its quest for prosperity.”

FCSSC will also provide important intellectual know-how to the Made in Africa Initiative. Through its Partnership Programme, the Center has established strong relationships with Chinese companies, who have strong plans to expand overseas. Based in Hong Kong, its unique positioning also enables it to fully tap into the international capital market to organize financing for projects under the Made in Africa Initiative.

Wu Zhong, Director-General of FCSSC, expressed his expectations: “This partnership effectively leverages the respective advantages and characteristics of each Party: the extensive network and experience of development cooperation from the UNDP, the precise demands from Africa and the specialized platform for production capability utilization and development financing. I believe this will become a model that adds to the successful cases of South-South Cooperation.”

Three separate MOUs were signed between the FCSSC and governments of Djibouti, Nigeria and Senegal respectively, who will benefit from immediately support from the Made in Africa Initiative.

The agreements were signed during the backdrop of the newly established Sub-Forum on Poverty Reduction under FOCAC – building on the Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, which has been an important platform for dialogue and experience sharing between African countries and China since 2010. This year, the forum focused in particular on how to align African countries’ future poverty reduction strategies with the recently adopted post-2015 development agenda.

The partnership signing signals the beginning of a fruitful relationship between the three parties, but more importantly UNDP’s strong commitment to support China’s South- South Cooperation to help African countries achieve sustainable, dynamic and inclusive growth as best as possible.