NAIROBI, April 4 (Xinhua) -- The implementation of projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will be key to enhancing peace and inclusive prosperity in the African continent and shaping Africa's future development path, a former African Union (AU) official said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Erastus Mwencha, former deputy chairperson of the AU Commission said that BRI projects are directly tied to Africa's quest for integration, enhanced cross-border trade, energy security, technology transfer and green transition.
While acknowledging that the future of the initiative in Africa is bright, Mwencha, a Kenyan national, stressed that it will help the continent tackle the infrastructure funding gap, and promote local manufacturing and cross-border trade.
"In Africa, a number of key projects have been developed under the Belt and Road Initiative, key ones being infrastructure, particularly rail, and road," Mwencha said.
He observed that under the BRI, China-Africa cooperation in energy, agriculture, cultural exchanges, and capacity development for the continent's youth has also flourished.
The digital economy, financial services, and industrial sectors in Africa will also benefit from the implementation of BRI projects, positioning the continent as the next frontier for growth and foreign direct investments, Mwencha said.
He noted that signature BRI projects such as the 480-km Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) have injected vitality into local and regional economies through enhanced mobility of people, goods and services.
The former AU official observed that BRI projects have not only stimulated economic growth in Africa but have also created a mutual platform for countries to trade and cooperate in diverse fields.
The BRI has reshaped multilateralism, ensuring that African countries have alternative sources of capital, skills, and technology required to modernize their economies, Mwencha said.
He commended BRI projects in Ethiopia, Egypt, Angola, Gabon, and Morocco that have transformed local economies through reduced costs of doing business, increased exports, and value addition for agricultural commodities.
Mwencha debunked the myth from western pundits that BRI projects were saddling African countries with debts, stressing that instead, they were helping the continent tackle poverty and infrastructure deficit in a cost-effective manner.
China's BRI will be an integral part of Africa's future quest for economic diversification, he said, citing its role in helping the continent develop its agro-industries, mining and housing sectors. ■