Belt And Road Expected To Help Boost African Employment Rates

Belt and Road forum
Journalists work outside the venue of a summit at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 15, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo)

China continues to work on attracting allies for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and one of its solid supporters in Africa. The BRI is expected to help restore growth in employment rates as Africans struggle with the lack of jobs in various industries.

Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe, said on Wednesday that she believes the BRI will have a positive impact on worldwide markets and industries. She said the project will help Africa grow its employment rates.

"The (BRI) is probably one of the biggest growth and development initiatives that we have in the world," she noted. Songwe added that through ramping up infrastructure projects under the Chinese initiative, Africa's job creation segment will see a boost.

Under the BRI, an African free trade market is being helmed for the coverage of approximately 1.2 billion people. Songwe explained that trade facilitation will be enhanced through the project and this, in return, could open many job opportunities for unemployed Africans.

Even before talks between China and Africa kicked off for the BRI, the former has already established its influence in the continent. Over the last two decades, relations between the two regions increased significantly, more so with the introduction of the Belt and Road program.

The latest data revealed that since the year 2000, China has loaned over $143 billion to a number of African countries. The funds were used to construct dams, airports, buildings, stadiums, and highways that have since been improving trade and business in the region.

As far as influence is concerned, Kenya and Uganda have been teaching Mandarin to students in selected schools. Analysts said the move was implemented as part of Africa's plan of encouraging African students to someday pursue jobs outside the continent, particularly in the world's second-largest economy.

It is expected that the Belt and Road Initiative will further improve diplomatic, bilateral, and cultural trade between China and Africa. Delegations from both sides are also expected to be carried out in the coming years in a bid to explore other bilateral programs for education and business.

Earlier this week, the China-Africa Institute was inaugurated. It seeks to enhance the exchange of academic resources from both sides as well as build mutual friendships and ties that will help maintain cooperation between the two regions.

"China and Africa have enjoyed a time-honored friendship between the people," an expert from Kenya, Adhere Cavince, said of the improving cooperation. Cavince said he hopes the institute will help African students have higher chances of pursuing an education in the Asian country.

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