Kenya should leverage on China’s friendship to expedite race to first world status
By Adhere Cavince
Since its founding in 1921, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has anchored the transformation of China from dreary political and economic entity into the most potent engine of global economic growth. China is today’s number two economy in the world and is expected to inject more than one-fifth of the total increase in the global GDP in the five years ending in 2026. While the party has delivered so much at home, it has equally been central to China’s engagements with the world, Africa included.
Through the CPC, Beijing has had a number of exchanges on governance experience with African counterparts. Premised on the four principles of independence, equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, the CPC officials have visited many countries in the continent, including Kenya, Egypt, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania.
In its exchanges, the CPC does not discriminate ruling parties from the opposition parties. In Kenya, for instance, both Orange Democratic Movement (opposition) and the ruling Jubilee Party have both interacted with the CPC. African political parties have also visited China, to further learn from their experience on governance.
Central in CPC’s messaging to African parties are key points that have been attributed to China’s meteoric rise. They include: safeguarding internal stability, economic construction, and improving the quality of life for the citizens. During the visits, African delegations have been exposed to extensive interactions with Chinese officials and field visits to key installations for further learning and benchmarking. The areas of concern are often wide, encapsulating agriculture, reform and opening-up, infrastructure construction, healthcare, poverty reduction, education, entrepreneurship and participatory party building.
While CPC continues to engage African political parties at country level; it has also been proactive in supporting governance reform initiatives in the continent through avenues such as the African Union on key issues like integration and Pan Africanism.
Political interests have for decades defined the relationship between China and Africa. Being both victims of colonization and other forms of subjugation, China and African countries have often worked together in agitating for a more balanced, inclusive and progressive forms of international relations. During geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, popularly known as the Cold War, China and African countries banded together under the auspices of the Non Aligned Movement.
At the same time, China, under the leadership of the CPC, was actively involved in helping African countries in their struggle for independence. Beijing extended not just moral and rhetorical support to African independence movements but also provided training and economic aid, even though at the time, it was still a hugely developing polity.
Between 1950s and 1970s, China sent thousands of doctors, engineers, and technicians who were involved in the construction of various infrastructure projects including the 1860-kilometer long Tanzania-Zambia railway, a monumental result of Sino-Africa ties. The continent would return the favour in 1971, when People’s Republic of China (PRC) replaced the Republic of China (ROC) as a member of the United Nation in 1971 with help from African countries.
The roots of political affinity between China, under the CPC, and African countries are therefore deep, with enviable fruits having been realised over the decades. Yet there is more work to be done. Africa is a fast transforming continent with a population bulge. China is equally a nation on the move in so many metrics. Both China and Africa face similar challenges touching on development that require cross learning and synergy in action.
Political governance remains a key pillar of nation building. The CPC has delivered wide ranging public goods not just for China, but also globally through avenues like the Belt and Road Initiative. As the next frontier of global growth, Africa should continue working closely with China, sharing experiences while pooling and pulling towards a strategic future that can deliver the dreams of both entities.
The writer is an international relations researcher. Twitter: @Cavinceworld.