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Sudan expects to play bigger role in
Belt and Road Initiative - analysts

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- Sudan expects to play a bigger role in China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which provides a good opportunity for Sudan to upgrade its infrastructure and promote its economic development through cooperation with China, Sudanese analysts said.

The initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

“Sudan agreed to the Chinese initiative from its onset and has declared readiness to be a major partner,” Hassan al-Saouri, a political science professor at Al Neelain University, told Xinhua.

He praised the “deeply-rooted historical relations between Sudan and China,” which have paved the way for enhancing bilateral strategic cooperation.

The China-Sudan cooperation has been fruitful in the past decades. Thanks to the funding and technological aid from China, Sudan has largely achieved energy independence by establishing its own oil industry. China is also helping Sudan transform its economy via agricultural assistance, including in the field of cotton industry.

China has remained as the biggest trade partner for Sudan for many years, while Sudan has been as a major African trade partner for China.

Al-Saouri said that as Sudan serves as a bond linking the Arab world and African countries, it can play a major part in the BRI.

“If we look into ancient history, we will find that Sudan’s eastern ports on the Red Sea coast previously constituted a meeting point for the commercial convoys from China toward Africa,” said al-Saouri, who is also the chairman of the Sudanese Society for Political Science.

Through the BRI, China can help Sudan develop railways, roads, and ports, al-Saouri said.

It is the “ancient dream” of the African continent to be linked by rail “from South Africa in the south to Egypt in the north, and from the Red Sea in the east to Senegal on the Atlantic Ocean in the west,” he noted.

Abdul-Rahim Al-Sunni, a political analyst at the Khartoum Economic and Political Research Center, said that his country will benefit most from the energy projects within the BRI.

Sudan is earnestly considering establishing its first nuclear power station for peaceful use in cooperation with China, in addition to building solar power farms and more dams for irrigation and electricity generation, Al-Sunni told Xinhua.

Agriculture represents another major field of cooperation between Sudan and China under the BRI, Al-Sunni said.

“Sudan needs the Belt and Road Initiative, which provides opportunities for it ... to promote sustainable development and infrastructure projects,” he said.

The Belt and Road Initiative has earned support from more than 100 countries and international organizations.


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.




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