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How China's tech cooperation with Africa makes 8k8 17a difference

华晨宇火星演唱会日出场全纪录 | 走,一起去看日出吧! | 8k8 17 | Updated: 2024-07-22 09:19:15

The continent of Africa is closely being watched as the next big growth market — a description that has persisted for a while. There are numerous reasons for this optimism: Over 70 percent of the continent's population is under the age of 35, and by 2030, 42 percent of the world's young people are expected to be living in African countries. This data not only points to a major consumption market over the next three decades, it also underlines the continent's potential to quickly industrialize, develop itself and its economies of scale and contribute in a big way to innovative spaces in order to compete on a global scale.

However, for the continent to be able to compete in the world market and create employment opportunities for the over 20 million Africans joining the workforce each year, digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, which is strongly connected to economic growth, innovation, job creation and inclusion, will be critical. Digital technologies can help African nations leapfrog the slow and expensive grind of industrialization, reach their full potential and take their rightful place in the global economy.

Since African countries lack the comprehensive policy framework required to close the development gap in the digital economy, the African Union under Agenda 2063 has taken it upon itself to promote and encourage the digital economy and green technologies. These have been identified as vital instruments that are essential to provide new opportunities to the African people, drive business models, increase employment opportunities and also act as a universal enabler not only for realizing the aspirations of Africans but for global sustainable development goals as well.

China has always been a willing and reliable partner helping African countries address their pressing socioeconomic challenges. Based on this belief, the African Union believes that as China aims to develop a comprehensive partnership with African nations in an era when China is building an Africa-China community in cyberspace and technology with a vision of pursuing common development and shared prosperity and promoting the huge rollout of the Belt and Road Initiative, joining hands with China to speed up the development of the digital economy will help close the continent's development gaps. It will also inject more impetus into Africa's economic recovery.

China's cooperation with Africa in tech innovations has made progress in recent years, with China proactively implementing tech innovation action plans under the BRI and sharing scitech feats and experiences with numerous African nations.

China has committed to 10 digital economy projects for the continent in areas such as communication networks, data centers and smart cities. China has also pledged to set up hubs for cooperation in satellite remote-sensing applications and support the development of joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases as well. The China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 passed at the eighth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Ministerial Conference, reaffirmed the digital collaboration and expanded the collaboration to areas such as spectrum management, 5G technology, satellite internet, big data, e-commerce, smart cities, drone technology and financing.

Based on the above, China's role in the continent's technology sector could be seen from the perspective of a financier and infrastructure provider. As a financier, between 2000 and 2020, China invested over $13.5 billion in Africa's information and communication technology sector. As an infrastructure provider, China has played a significant role in supporting Africa upsurge internet access, making the Chinese key funders of ICT infrastructure in Africa, where Chinese firms are actively investing in African countries to build digital infrastructure, provide vocational training for local people and provide internet service. China's approach is unique in that it encourages Chinese majors such as Huawei and ZTE to develop local experiences in Africa's ICT space by building relationships and partnering with domestic internet service firms. For instance, Huawei partnered with MTN to provide the first 5G service to mobile phone users in Nigeria, enabling users of Huawei and Xiaomi phones to be the first users of the services, before other brands such as iPhone or Samsung. In Mozambique, China's drone technology has empowered the development of smart agriculture; as a result, the Wanbao Mozambique Agricultural Park has seen a 13.6 percent rise in crop yield.

The above evidence indicates that Africa has not only experienced practical benefits from partnering with China in the building of digital infrastructure, the application of new technologies, promoting smart agriculture, e-commerce trade, and training African digital talents for the future of work, there is also evidence that China has kept up with building related infrastructure in Africa because the Chinese government believes that digitalization can foster the creation of new meaningful employment opportunities while also developing the human capital base in the continent, thereby helping the continent attain its demographic dividend and avoid its demographic curse.

The author is executive director of the Center for Nigerian Studies at the Institute of African Studies in Zhejiang Normal University.

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