Beijing, 3 September 2018
It is a great pleasure and honour to participate in this Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in my double role as Chairperson of the African Union and President of Rwanda.
Allow me to thank the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China for the warm hospitality we have enjoyed in Beijing. I also commend President Xi and President Ramaphosa, our Co-Chairs, for the careful preparation of this landmark event.
The relationship between Africa and China is based on equality, mutual respect, and a commitment to shared well-being. This was our starting point eighteen years ago, when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was established.
Since then, China’s actions have demonstrated that a stronger Africa is seen as an opportunity to invest in, rather than as a problem or a threat. China has continued to lead the way in showing what is lost in not engaging and partnering with Africa.
Today, the Forum has grown into a powerful engine of cooperation, fully aligned with Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
China’s engagement in Africa has been deeply transformational, both internally, and with respect to Africa’s global position. That is why we now want to reinforce and scale up the Forum, in order to maximise the benefits.
The expanded cooperation framework presented by President Xi fully reflects our common understanding of the future of our community. We will intensify work on industry, ICTs, infrastructure, and trade. We will also open up new pathways of collaboration on environmental protection, healthcare, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security.
Working more closely together to assess implementation progress on a regular basis will further enhance the quality of this process. Applying those insights will take the Forum from strength to strength in this cycle and in subsequent ones.
It is time for Africa to step up as well. We must increase our sense of ownership of joint programmes, improve project management, and increase participation by the African private sector.
It is also incumbent upon us to articulate our continent’s priorities clearly and consistently, with a focus on connectivity to global markets. Africa’s wish is to be a full and integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative. I am happy to inform you that the reformed African Union will serve as a more effective focal point, going forward.
The health and productivity of the bonds between Africa and China are self-evident. Let there be no misinterpretation on that score.
Africa is not a zero-sum game. Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone’s expense. Indeed, the gains are enjoyed by everyone who does business on our continent.
Nonetheless, as in any major undertaking, we should always strive to improve our performance. Tackling important matters in a spirit of friendship can only enhance the sustainability and impact of our efforts, while enabling us to relate to other parties with assurance.
This responsibility does not concern one side only, but all of us equally. Building the capacity of African institutions to transact and monitor more effectively is what will make the biggest difference.
I cannot close without saluting President Xi Jinping’s personal engagement. Since taking office, the President has visited every region of our continent, including countries of every size and economic profile, including my own country, Rwanda.
Our continent had the honour to host President Xi on his fourth and most recent trip just a few weeks ago. This commitment speaks to the vigour and reliability of our relations.
China has proven to be a win-win partner and a sincere friend. We look forward to building on this solid foundation to reach the shared future of openness, prosperity, and peace that our peoples want and must have.
I thank you very much for your kind attention.