African officials vow to enhance cooperation with China

ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- African leaders attending the 24th African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa vowed to strengthen cooperation with China to develop infrastructure and embolden the war against terrorism and infectious diseases.

The 2015 African Union Heads of State and government summit ended on Saturday amid calls for concerted efforts to promote security and development on the continent.

Leaders discussed women empowerment and pressing security challenges like terrorism, civil strife and the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

The chairperson of the AU commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her keynote address said implementation of the Africa's 2063 agenda had gathered steam.

"Our aspirations and concrete programs in Agenda 2063 are very clear; to diversify our economies and industrialize, to have skills and entrepreneur revolution, unleash the creativity of youth and transform agriculture," Dlamini-Zuma told leaders.

Foreign dignitaries including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Zhang Ming attended the African leaders summit.

The Chinese government and AU signed an MOU ahead of the summit to promote infrastructure development and industrialization on the continent.

Dlamini-Zuma said that Sino-Africa cooperation had entered a critical phase as both parties pursue common aspirations and interests.

"China will be a key partner in our noble quest for transformation through industrialization and development of modern infrastructure like high speed trains, superhighways, ports and ICT infrastructure," Zuma said at a press briefing.

The Africa's agenda 2063 roots for socio-economic transformation through investments in physical infrastructure, skills, industrialization and agriculture transformation.

AU member states are required to mobilize massive resources to implement the ambitious blue print.

Political leaders and experts agreed that time was ripe for Africa to eschew over-reliance on external resources to finance development projects.

Zimbabwean President and new AU chairman, Robert Mugabe said that Africa had abundant resources that should be harnessed to implement mega infrastructure projects like roads, railways and ports.

He noted that China is among reliable partners who have pledged resources to aid the development of superhighways, hydropower, sub marine cables and modern ports.

"China is a critical player in modernizing Africa's economy. We have looked up to China to help us develop new highways dotting the African cities. Our bilateral trade has increased in volumes and the country is a leading source of foreign direct investment in the continent," said Mugabe.

The President of Senegal, Mackay Sall noted that South-South cooperation has benefited African countries through technology transfer and sharing of best practices to accelerate industrial growth.

"China has pursued a development path that resonates with our circumstances. We need to strengthen cooperation with China to address some of our development challenges," Sall told experts.

Policy makers and experts stressed that Sino-Africa cooperation should be strengthened to combat new security threats effectively.

The AU Chairpersons' Special Representative for Counter- terrorism cooperation, Francisco Madeira told Xinhua that China has enriched the fight against extremism and violence in Africa.

"We are partnering with China in many aspects to combat terrorism effectively. Our cooperation centers on training and capacity building to boost anti-terror efforts," said Madeira.

He noted that China has contributed peace keeping troops to restore stability in trouble spots like South Sudan.

During an interview with Xinhua, the Liberian Foreign Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan hailed China's contribution to the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

"We received material support from China to fight Ebola when the disease was at its peak last fall. China also deployed a dedicated team of health workers to countries affected by Ebola," Ngafuan said.



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