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Interview: Chinese investments help reduce conflicts in Africa: diplomat

By David Musyoka and Shao Xinlian (Xinhua)

15:12, January 28, 2013

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese investments in Africa are helping create employment and wealth, while reducing opportunities for conflicts, an African diplomat involved in peace building activities in the continent said on Sunday.

Olusegun Akinsanya, the regional director for the Institute of Security Studies and former Nigerian ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union (AU), made the remarks on the sidelines of the bloc's 20th summit, which kicked off here on Sunday morning.

Most of the African conflicts are resource based, Akinsanya said, adding that competition for wealth will reduce if the continent achieves an industrialization level to enable more people to increase their incomes.

"China should carry on with its activities in Africa, like helping us to add value to our products and therefore facilitating industrialization to create wealth that will help reduce conflicts, " Akinsanya said in an interview with Xinhua.

"China is doing very well in Africa and our relations have come a long way. You can for instance imagine the money spent by China to bring up this building we are in today," he said, referring to the new AU headquarters, a donation from the Chinese government.

"But what we are saying is that the challenges facing Africa are not reducing but increasing because we are a developing continent. Crime is becoming widespread and sophisticated. So we require deeper partnerships with countries like China that have the economic means," he stressed.

The diplomat said Africa can benefit from China's military strength, by partnering with the country to help the continent equip the Africa Standby Force (ASF), a rapid response peacekeeping force in the process of formation.

The ASF faces the challenge of funding, which is related more to lack of logistics facilitation than the troops contribution by AU members, according to the diplomat.

While troops can easily be mobilized, equipment like helicopters, military planes and tanks to transport the troops is lacking. The continent faces the shortage of funds that can help it buy military hardware, he indicated.

One example is the 15-member Economic Commission for West African States, which is willing to contribute troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, but has been unable to do so for lack of adequate funding, Akinsanya said.

It is, therefore, important to help the AU improve logistics of the ASF and provide financial support to the force, he noted.

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