Interview: Belt and Road Initiative unique opportunity for Ethiopia, Africa: scholar
ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) - The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative brings positive impetus for Ethiopia and other African countries in terms of both its financing and the geographical area it covers, an Ethiopian scholar said on Thursday.
Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Thursday that "more than any other nation in Africa, Ethiopia is the first beneficiary of the initiative through the Addis Ababa-Djibouti rail link."
"The industrial parks, the new airports and potentially the Eritrean ports that are now accessible to Ethiopia can also further benefit from the initiative," he said.
The scholar said that the initiative has emphasized infrastructure projects such as railways, highways, and airways, adding that it has brought various opportunities for Africa's infrastructure development over the past few years.
Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, further lauded the initiative for its target to economically integrate the countries through connectivity projects.
The expert also indicated that, in order to further strengthen the Belt and Road initiative's potential for African countries' development, the upcoming Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) must include various key factors.
According to him, such factors include industrial and agricultural technology and knowledge transfer initiatives for structural transformation in Africa, as well as how African countries can better utilize natural resources for the continent's development.
He also advised the pan African bloc, the African Union (AU), to use the upcoming FOCAC Summit to assemble the resolve to streamline business relations with China, so as to assist its member countries' development.
Ethiopia - as one of the countries cooperating with China in the implementation of the initiative - had in fact years ago accomplished the 500-million-dollar Addis Ababa-Adama expressway that has become the first expressway in Ethiopia and East Africa.
The 85-km expressway, which was inaugurated in May 2014, was funded partly by the Export-Import Bank of China and built by China Communications Construction Company using Chinese technology and standards.
Speaking to Xinhua, Meles Alem, Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also affirmed last week the east African country's strong commitment to further strengthen engagement with China, mainly with the help of the upcoming FOCAC summit, which he said "will be a good showcase of the South-South Cooperation."
Alem emphasized that the upcoming FOCAC summit comes at a time of rapidly growing economic, political and educational ties between the African continent and China.
"Many Africans are trained in China. Chinese experts are also contributing to the development endeavors of the continent. Therefore, FOCAC would continue to be an important instrument in the diplomatic ties between our continent and China." he further said.