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Interview: Brazil, China could be partners in lighting up Africa: Brazilian expert

(Xinhua)    11:04, June 19, 2015

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 18 -- Brazil and China could work together to bring electricity to several areas in the African continent, instead of rivalling for that, a Brazilian expert told Xinhua.

The strategic partnership between Brazil and China has been strengthened by the visits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to Brazil over the past year, although the two countries remain rivals in some sectors, such as supplying machinery and equipment to develop electricity network in Africa, said Ronnie Lins, a Brazilian expert on China studies.

But with negotiations and political goodwill, Lins believed that Brazil and China could partner up to increase access to electricity in Africa.

Political will is not a problem, as the governments of Brazil and China have moved closer and signed several agreements these years, Lins said.

"Now we have the second part, which is also essential: businessmen from both countries must sit together to find out how they can form partnerships to face the other rivals," Lins said.

There are vast regions devoid of electricity network in Africa, and the United Nations is making efforts to remedy this situation. According to a recent report from the Africa Progress Panel, over 600 million people in Africa still do not have access to modern energy, and the energy consumption of the entire Sub-Saharan Africa is lower than that of Spain.

The situation poses a great opportunity to several countries, which see in the African continent an important energy market to invest in, Lins said.

China is already making investment. China Jiangsu International has partnered up with famous rapper Akon to launch a Lighting Africa program, which aims to send electricity to rural and isolated African villages.

Brazil has both expertise in clean energy and strong ties to Africa to invest in this field. A large share of the Brazilian population is of African descent, and the administrations have made efforts to strengthen Brazil's ties with the continent, opening more embassies and making more official visits.

Though Brazil's current President Dilma Rousseff is not very focused on Africa, her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, made 34 visits to the continent during his eight-year term, Lins said.

In addition, Brazil can be a successful example of a country which invested in clean energy and managed to increase access to electricity in a relatively short time. An Africa Progress Panel report has cited Brazil as an example of country which managed to boost progress through universalization of energy access.

Over the past years, Brazil managed to increase access to electricity to 99 percent of its population with governmental program Luz para Todos (Light for All), Lins noted.

The majority of Brazil's energy comes from renewable sources, mostly hydroelectric power, which can be used in some regions of Africa. Brazil also uses wind and solar power, and Africa can benefit amazingly from solar power, as the continent has more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Lins highlighted that Brazil's trade with Africa is significant, which reached 28.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, and that several agreements with African nations are expected to be signed in the second half of 2015.

"Brazil's historic connection to Africa and its expertise in essential aspects defined in the UN campaign, such as universalization of access, intense use of renewable energy and efficiency measures, qualify Brazil as an important player to act in this market, which will reach over 400 million U.S. dollars per year until 2030," Lins said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Jin Chen,Huang Jin)

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