Academicians advise China to invest in EAC industrial drive

DAR ES SALAAM : ACADEMICIANS and politicians have joined the government’s effort to lure investors from China to invest in regional industrial sector that still requires a lot of technological advancements.

Making the revelations during the 10th Anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) working in partnership with East African (EAC) member countries in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, the participants argued that China being advanced in industries sector, should in particular invest such programme to drive the infant ones in the bloc.

The bilateral trade volume between Tanzania and China reached 8.31 billion US dollars (around 20tri/-) in 2022, thanks to implementation of BRI, which was proposed by China President Xi Jinping in the past ten years.

BRI is a development initiative aimed at connecting three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa.

As the short form for the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road, the initiative’s primary objective is to enhance economic connectivity by linking 47 per cent of the world population, 23 per cent of the global GDP and a vast number of natural resources.

In his analysis, PLO Lumumba Institute Director, Joramu Nkumbi noted that decade age of the BRI has been associated with positive results to the members; hence, it was time for China to invest heavily in industries to ensure the EAC as a bloc rises economically and develop.

“We have seen the good results of BRI in some areas. I think it is time for the Chinese to invest in building factories in Tanzania. By doing this- it will help to combine the intelligence and knowledge of China and ours as Tanzanians and this will help to develop our technology together with the economy of our EAC countries,” said Nkumbi.

He said right now African countries import more products from foreign countries, especially China than they export, adding that statistics show that Africa buys five times more products from abroad than it exports.

“As EAC member countries, we should first know what we want and from there we shall know what our agenda is. If we all have one agenda together, it will help our countries to get to where we need to get to,” he pointed out.

On his part, a member of the Forum of Civil Organisations in Kenya, Kennedy Walusala said during his History lessons in school, they learnt that China was one of the poorest countries in the world, but now it is being set as an example of success by everyone, so it is Africa to implement such ideas to reach China.

“We should ask ourselves as EAC that do we have specific strategies in our cooperation with China…  While Japan, China, the European Union (EU) have strategies on Africa for more than 100 years, do we in the EAC have those strategies too?” Walusala posed.

“As EAC bloc members, we should ask ourselves if we are really ready to work as a team or as individuals, because the then EAC was originally made up of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, but now composed of others including South Sudan, Burundi. Are we ready as a bloc or individual members to achieve the goal,” he further asked.

On his part, a veteran Politician, James Mbatia said the world tends to cross more borders and is now going to artificial intelligence, robots and other things, so African countries should accept to know that individualism will not make them go at a high speed and embrace development including technological growth.

He added: “Due to the speed of technological change in the world, the whole world is in hands. This is based on human discovery, innovation and knowledge in investing in technology. How do we use this technology to make the world a safer and better place for all to live? This is the basic question to ask and China is the right place to learn.”

Mr Mbatia further said that all human beings in the world depend on each other and no human being can do something alone without depending on others, whether in education, economy or other life, hence, it was wise to partner in development and learn from others.

“We need countries like China to come and invest, but if we must organise ourselves in the area of rule of law and with that in mind,  we will be able to benefit,” said Dr Azaveli Lwaitama, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA).

Commenting, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF), Joseph Butiku said the conference has shown great success, as the participants have made it clear that they wish China’s success to happen in their countries.

“We should discuss how the EAC can cooperate with China in policy, economy, trade and development,” said Butiku.

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