Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the African Union (AU) High Representative for Silencing the Guns, has called on African leaders to emulate the Chinese in their efforts to bring prosperity to the continent.
He gave the advice in a keynote address he delivered at the 2023 Abuja Forum with the theme: “Promoting Africa-China Belt and Road Cooperation for a New Era of Common Development”, on Thursday.
Ibn Chambas said though many commentators see China’s rapid development as a miracle, it came about as a result of careful and meticulous planning directed by a national vision.
“From my experience over the years, the saying that ‘failure to plan is planning to fail’ is a truism. The Chinese were able to correctly analyze and understand their situation, decide where they wanted to go, and set out to plan the exact steps to be taken to get there.
“But we all know that planning alone isn’t enough. Therefore, the second important lesson we can learn from the Chinese experience is the discipline of policy implementation.
“No matter how well one plans, without proper execution everything will come to naught.
“Admittedly, we have a serious problem with following through with our plans in Africa. I have seen a fair share of Good Policy documents prepared by experts at the country, regional and continental levels which have remained on the shelves while the problems that they were designed to solve linger on.
“I am curious to see how Africa-China partnerships could help us develop this discipline of implementation and delivery.”
He also said the Chinese have been able to develop without compromising their culture, history and their way of life.
“I think it is remarkable that they have been able to weather all global pressures including ideological, philosophical, cultural, moral, economic and political pressures to keep their culture.
“From my perspective, it is this ability to maintain and improve upon their way of life that has helped the Chinese to come this far.
“What this teaches us is that we cannot develop by seeking to copy everything from other places. Development after all is a positive evolution of culture. So how do we take stock of our history and culture, improve upon the positive aspects and resolve the negative aspects such that we can take full advantage of our enormous resources to build the prosperity that we so desire as Africans? This is a question that should continually agitate our minds as we engage our partners.”
He said the criticism of the partnership between Africa and China that the Asian giant was planning to recolonize Africa was not true, adding that: “As the AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns, I am particularly optimistic about what the China- Africa relationship means for peace and security.
“The Africa-China cooperation equally aims at building a safer, stable and more peaceful Africa by upholding the common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concepts.
On his part, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau Mohammed (Rtd), founder of Gusau Institute, said the conference was a culmination of the intense engagement between Gusau Institute and Zhejiang Normal University in China.
He said in 2017, the two institutions reached an agreement to deepen understanding and enhance cooperation, between Africa and China.
“This yearly conference is billed to advance dialogue and foster more understanding between African nations and the People’s Republic of China. It also provides the opportunity for critical discussion of issues that mutually affect China and Africa.
“It has become imperative that in the fast-changing political, economic, and other global ecosystems, more attention needs to be focused on the importance of effective collaboration, in this case, between Africa and China.
“This is not only appropriate but timely if we are to develop a new and workable strategic framework for tackling the increasingly intricate challenges of this era.
“We are convinced, following recent events, that any effort to shape a new international order that is stable, inclusive, and beneficial to all regions of the world, should be a collaborative effort.
“At the Gusau Institute, we believe that what Africa needs most now is an entity that will generate new ideas for dealing with old and emerging challenges facing the continent.”