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Interview: Chinese aid crucial for establishing African Standby Force: UN official
2016/02/25

ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Chinese funding to the African Union (AU) that was announced during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held last year in South Africa, is important for establishment of the African Standby Force, a senior UN official Dr. Carlos Lopes has said.

"Setting up a force is always very difficult. And if the Chinese were convinced to provide funding for the initial stages, then the whole process will be easy," Lopes who is the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) told Xinhua in an interview during the 26th AU summit that ended on Sunday in Ethiopia.

With regards to Africa's infrastructure needs, Lopes said the continent needs 90 billion U.S. dollars annually to achieve structural transformation.

"We have managed to mobilize half of that amount and the deficit will be filled in three ways; through external funding such as foreign investments, through internal taxation and thirdly, by creating special partnerships with countries such as China," the ECA's boss said.

Recalling his recommendations in Equatorial Guinea in 2014 urging Africa to emulate China's development model, Lopes reiterated that "besides African countries asking China for financial support, they should also learn from China's industrialization model.

"Thirty years ago, China had a per capita income equivalent to some poor African nations. It was a country that wholly depended on agricultural production. This is why I am asking that we learn from China, but we should do what they did much faster," the UN official affirmed.

He hailed the important role currently being played by Africa's private sector in the continent's economic transformation.

"The private sector is playing its role because initially, there was no intra-Africa investments, no internal consumption and there were no activities in private domains such as construction as well as in public domains such as electricity supply and ports because there was no private sector in most parts of the continent," he noted.

Today, he continued, a lot is being done and African entrepreneurs are playing their role.

"But it is still small vis-a-vis the needs and their capacities. We should continue to mobilize this private sector potential," he concluded.

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