By Metohuey Adoglo
The Sino-African relationship has emerged as a pivotal force shaping the economic, social, and cultural landscape of both China and the African continent. This dynamic partnership, characterized by trade, investment, infrastructure development, and cultural exchange, holds immense significance in fostering mutual growth and addressing common challenges.
At the forefront of this discussion is Paul Frimpong, a distinguished Sino-African expert, economist, and global economic development and investment analyst. As the Executive Director of the Africa-China Centre for Policy & Advisory, Mr. Frimpong brings invaluable insights into the intricacies of this unique alliance.
In this article, we explore how the Sino-African relationship has evolved over time, examining its impact on diverse sectors such as trade, infrastructure, and cultural exchange. We delve into the challenges and opportunities associated with this partnership, shedding light on how African countries can navigate this landscape to ensure sustainable and equitable development. Moreover, we delve into the importance of strategic engagement, avoiding over-reliance, and fostering public understanding to foster a balanced and mutually beneficial relationship.
— Africanian News (@africaniannews) August 17, 2023
Dreams Talks: Let’s dive right into it. What inspired your current career path?
Paul Frimpong: Well, as an economist, I needed to find my area of interest and expertise. For me, that meant focusing on Asia, particularly the Asia Africa region and India. China is the dominant player in that region, and its relationship with Africa is significant. So, naturally, I chose to research Sino-African relations. What also motivated me was the realization that we are entering a new era, where China will dominate many aspects of our lives. By understanding these dynamics and positioning myself as an economist, I can pursue an exciting path and contribute to African coalitions.
Dreams Talks: As the Executive Director of the African Centre for Policy and Advisory, what is your role and the purpose of this organization?
Paul Frimpong: Our organization serves a dual purpose. Firstly, we function as a policy think tank. Our main goal is to conduct research on Africa-China issues, both through primary and secondary research. We publish insights and engage with public policy agencies, institutions, and governments across Africa. We aim to help them understand China’s policies and programs better so they can maximize the benefits of their relationship with China.
Secondly, we strive to engage the public. We create platforms to inform and involve the public in the growing partnership between China and their respective countries. In Ghana, for example, we organize events, media engagements, and public forums to help individuals and businesses understand the opportunities and challenges in Ghana-China relations.
We provide insights to African enterprises seeking access to the Chinese market and assist Chinese enterprises interested in opportunities in Africa. Our goal is to facilitate mutually beneficial partnerships and enhance understanding between Africa and China. Ultimately, our mission is to help Africa gain more insights into its partnership with China, as understanding our partner is vital to achieving the best outcomes.
Dreams Talks: How do you envision China’s support and involvement in innovation hubs benefiting female entrepreneurs in Africa and fostering economic growth on the continent?
Paul Frimpong: It’s an exciting topic. I’m currently speaking to you from Accra, Ghana, where I’m a co-founder of an organization called WestlionCo Hub. We have private offices and co-working spaces here, focusing on female entrepreneurs in Ghana and across Africa. We work with a network of women entrepreneurs in Ghana and several other countries in the West Lancashire. This experience has given me insight into the significance of entrepreneurship and innovation hubs in Africa.
However, there hasn’t been much discussion about China’s involvement in supporting these innovation hubs. Entrepreneurship is crucial for unlocking Africa’s economic potential, and I believe China, with its numerous innovation hubs, can play a role in fostering their growth. China has seen tremendous growth in technology and various sectors, so I think they can champion and encourage more innovation in Africa.
Currently, we are involved in similar initiatives, and we have witnessed some female entrepreneurs starting to export their products, like minerals and cosmetics, with some parts being processed in China. This kind of collaboration can have a positive impact. I hope that as Africa and China strengthen their relations, there will be more interest and support from China in this field.
Dreams Talks: How did China’s support during the challenging period of the late 1990s and early 2000s contribute to changing Africa’s perception and fostering partnerships?
Paul Frimpong: In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Africa faced challenges like disease burden, debt, civil wars, and political unrest. China’s support came at a crucial time. They invested in infrastructure, power stations, healthcare, and helped change the perception of Africa. This support was significant because Africa needed real infrastructure and partnerships based on mutual benefit. It shifted how African countries viewed China and India as partners. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation played a pivotal role in Africa-China relations by providing much-needed support when Africa needed it most.
In 2000, Africa was labeled the “hopeless continent,” but that same year, China hosted the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which marked the beginning of China’s significant engagement in Africa. China’s investments, power stations, healthcare initiatives, and infrastructure projects gained attention and provided much-needed support to Africa.
Dreams Talks: Why is there apprehension in the West about their relationship with China, particularly in West Africa and Sino-African relations?
Paul Frimpong: It seems like a double standard. Africa has the freedom to choose its partners. We have ongoing collaborations with the US and other Western countries. The concern about China’s involvement in Africa is unfounded. It’s like someone warning you about the flowers you received as a gift, questioning their intentions. We have our own interests and priorities as a continent. China’s investments and infrastructure projects have brought tangible benefits to Africa. They excel in developing infrastructure quickly and efficiently. We appreciate the role China plays in our development. African countries have the right to decide how they want to work and partner with others. We see China’s presence as an opportunity for mutual growth. We don’t need constant lectures from Western countries. We are capable of making informed decisions about our own interests and partnerships.
Dreams Talks:That was beautifully spoken, How can African countries ensure that their partnership with China and other countries is mutually beneficial and promotes sustainable development?
Paul Frimpong: As a continent, we must understand that we have multiple global partners, including China, India, Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, UK, France, and the US. Each of these partners has their own interests. It’s important for us to be strategic in our engagements and avoid overreliance on any single country. Diversifying our partnerships is crucial to prevent catastrophic consequences if there are economic slowdowns or policy shifts in any specific partner country, such as China.
We need to continuously evolve in how we engage with countries, not just China, to ensure our own stability and growth. It’s risky to become too reliant on one partner. African governments and policymakers should understand this and seek strategic relationships with multiple countries. This will help us navigate potential challenges and maintain our own agency.
It’s essential to avoid a culture of over-dependence on one country and instead foster balanced and diversified partnerships. By doing so, we can promote sustainable development and safeguard against potential risks. Our approach should be forward-thinking, flexible, and based on the understanding that our own interests as a continent must always be a priority.
Dreams Talks Conclusion
The Sino-African relationship continues to evolve, and both regions have the opportunity to shape its future. By building on the existing partnership, Africa can tap into China’s expertise and resources while maintaining a strategic approach to ensure long-term sustainability and mutual benefit.
Overall, the conversation with Mr. Frimpong shed light on the multifaceted nature of the Sino-African relationship and underscored the importance of continued dialogue and collaboration between the two regions.
— Africanian News (@africaniannews) July 3, 2023