Strengthening the ties of friendship and mutual cooperation formed the crux of discussions at the 2023 China-Africa Forum held on Friday, June 23, 2023 at the Faculty of Arts Boardroom, University of Lagos (UNILAG).
With the theme: “Chinese Modernization and Poverty Alleviation Policies: Lessons for Nigeria” the hybrid event also featured the inauguration and official launch of the African and Asian Researchers Association of Nigeria (AARAN).
Speaking at the event, the Nigerian Director of the Confucius Institute, UNILAG, Professor Chimdi Maduagwu noted that the People’s Republic of China was Africa’s largest trading partner as evident in the significant growth of economic ties in matters of aid, military, health care, and infrastructure.
Professor Maduagwu pointed out that beyond business, the Chinese language remained the most widely spoken language in the world with twenty (20) Confucius Institutes in thirteen (13) countries across Africa. He urged African countries to prioritise the learning of the language and fostering a better relationship with the Asian giant.
Similarly in his remarks, the Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, UNILAG, Professor ZhaoHongling averred that Africa has been crucial to the Asian country’s foreign policy since the end of the Chinese civil war. He expressed delight that the relationship between China and Africa had reached new heights in recent years.
According to him, the collaboration has transcended deeper into areas of technological transfer, economic aid and support, and extensive cultural exchanges between Africa and China.
The Deputy Director of Confucius Institute, UNILAG, Dr. Adetoro Banwo opined that the Belt and Road Initiative which is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013, has helped reduced poverty because many projects such as roads, railways, bridges, hospitals, schools and airports among others, have been constructed in Africa. He added that this development has boosted trade, increased job creation, improved transport services, and education and health among African countries.
His words, “ in 2020, the trade volume between China and Africa exceeded Two Hundred and Fifty Billion Dollars (US$ 250 billion). China’s total direct investment in Africa is nearly One Hundred Billion Dollars (US$ 100 billion) while its commercial loans to Africa have exceeded Ninety Billion Dollars (US$ 90 billion)”.
Professor Saibu highlighted the critical need for African nations to ask China and the West to cooperate on debt distress, “ideally speaking with one voice through institutions such as the African Union (AU) as a European Union (EU) push for the AU to join the G20 could be an important step to creating equitable, cooperative solutions to debt distress between Africa, China, and the West.”
Mr. Liang Benbin of the Chinese Consulate, Lagos who was also present at the event, pointed out that China has always championed and supported Africa in its modernization efforts and policy drives. He stressed the need for mutual cooperation and respect that would facilitate a shared future and prosperity for both countries.
Other participants from the university and Chinese community who attended the event include Dr. Ayodele Shittu and Dr. Ajuwon of the Department of Economics, UNILAG; Dr. Omon Merry Osiki, Department of History and Strategic Studies, UNILAG; Dr. Olasunmbo A. Olusanya, Department of Employment Relations and Human Resource Management, UNILAG; Mr. Andy Xing of Master Furniture, a Ph.D. Student of University of Castile La Mancha-Lecturer at School of Marxism, Yan University, Zhang Jiarui; Mrs. IyiolaOlatokunbo Edun, Administrator of Grace Schools, Gbagada; amongst others.
The African and Asian Researchers Association of Nigeria (AARAN) is a scholarly, non-political, non-profit professional association open to all persons interested in African and Asian studies. It is dedicated to advancing the field of Asian studies through international exchange, networking, publishing, research support, and career development.
The Association’s main goal is to promote intellectual exchanges, promote academic research and share information on engagement between China and the African continent.