Interview: China's long-term approach to investment benefits Africa: UN official

13:18, April 28, 2011      

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In a way that is different from traditional investors from Europe or the United States, China 's long-term approach to its investment in Africa has benefited many countries, Lazarous Kapambwe, chief of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Traditional European and American investors tend to think in the short-term and allow themselves to be distracted by temporary setbacks such as there was a conflict or corruption in governance in the country, Kapambwe said. As a result, they ask a country to satisfy certain conditions before going in.

On the other hand, China, which has enjoyed a long relationship with many African countries even before they became independent, has come as a business partner, he said.

"I gave this allegory when talking about China's investment and European or American investment in Africa. You could think of this as the race between the hare and the turtle," Kapambwe said. " China thinks in the long-term while investors from Europe tend to think in the short-term."

"For African countries, the rise of China, and Asia in general, has given an alternative source of investments, an alternative source of financing. With such diversification, it has increased our power to bargain," he said.

"It also helps to create a climate in which the investors from other regions, including the traditional investors, are also willing to negotiate with us on better terms. This is the value that China's investment in Africa has brought," he noted.

Kapambwe, who is also Zambia's permanent representative to the United Nations, said his country enjoys positive relations with China.

"The Chinese investment has been welcomed by not only the government, also by the ordinary people," he said. "Where there is a problem, we have engaged, and changes and improvement have been made." The ambassador expressed his hope that investment between the two sides would continue to grow in terms of volume and quality.


Despite the fact that China is the second largest economy in the world, it is still a developing country, he said. "We are supposed to grow together. It is important for us to ensure that we have the open dialogue and we are willing to improve upon this relationship."

The development of developing countries contributes a lot to the world economy, and emerging economies like China have provided inspirations for their partners in the developing world, he said.

The technologies they have and the growth pattern they followed are important to African countries. A bigger market emerging for commodities from both developing and developed countries adds value to the world economy, he said.

"The African countries are looking very closely to these countries as models of our own development, even for the mistakes they have made, the mistake that we could avoid," he added.

Kapambwe stressed that the emerging economies should not be only perceived as competitors as every country enjoys the same opportunity to develop together without competing negatively against each other.

Source: Xinhua
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