Participants to the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) African summit are discussing the phenomenon that China and India are in the process of reconfiguring the global economy, which is believed to offer extraordinary opportunities as well as markets and technology to sub-Saharan Africa.
The WEF on Africa, which opened on Wednesday, has brought together more than 700 business, government and civil society leaders to discuss how Africa today is "Going for Growth."
"China and India should not be viewed as competitors or clients, but as contributors to Africa's development," said Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of Tanzania.
The two emerging economic powers give Africa the hope that it is possible to transform African nations from abject poverty to higher levels of development, said the president.
Trade between China and India has quadrupled in the past five years from 10 to 40 billion U.S. dollars, according to Syamal Gupta, chairman of Tata Industries, India.
China's Africa Policy Paper, published in January this year, gave prominence to interests China and Africa have in common, the need for mutually beneficial cooperation, historical links and China's commitment to peace and development.
"We need to clarify the nature of our relationship," said Mandisi Mpahlwa, minister of trade and industry of South Africa. "For the first time, there are centers of power that understand our development challenges."
China and India serve as models for Africa because their experiences hold lessons for developing countries on how to manage gradual economic and political transformation, both Kikwete and Mpahlwa observed.
He also stressed that Africa must capitalize on the commodities boom driven by Chinese and Indian demand to "establish new platforms of economic competitiveness to build new capacities."
Africans have decided to develop a new partnership with the two countries to make them contribute to the continent's development, said Firmino Mucavele, chief executive of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development Secretariat), South Africa.
Given its growing relationship with China and India, Africa needs a coherent policy towards the two emerging economic giants of Asia. Participants discussed the possibility of using the ( NEPAD) framework of the African Union (AU) as the platform for shaping such an approach.
NEPAD is a strategic framework for African renewal that was launched by the AU in 2001 to address the continent's development challenges on the basis of the principles of good governance and mutual accountability.
NEPAD's functions match the aspirations that Africa has in its relations with China and India, Panellists said.
"The platform for it exists. The framework should be NEPAD," Mucavele said.