China is currently the largest single bilateral investor in Africa as well as the continent’s largest trading partner. China-Africa engagement has expanded rapidly in recent years and spurred growth and structural transformation in African countries. While pursuing accelerated investment in Africa, China is also engaging in more inclusive partnerships with African countries, and its commitment to investment could significantly help the continent to both enhance resilience and promote economic development.
The Investing in Africa Forum (IAF), was established in 2015 as a global platform for multilateral cooperation, promoting opportunities to increase investment in Africa. It is intended to be an annual multi-stakeholder gathering, bringing together representatives of the public and private sector from China and African countries, international and continental institutions, development partners, and think tanks to deepen policy dialogue, share experiences, and discuss business opportunities to promote and support investment and sustainable development in Africa. It was first initiated by China Development Bank (CDB) with the full endorsement of the Chinese Government, and won the strong support of the World Bank Group (WBG) and African countries at large.
The first IAF was co-organized by the Government of Ethiopia, CDB, China Africa Development Fund, WBG and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Addis Ababa on June 30 and July 1, 2015. With the theme “Partnering to Accelerate Investment, Industrialization and Results in Africa,” it brought together more than two hundred participants from China and African countries, private sector, regional institutions and development partners to explore practical steps to accelerate investment in Africa. As one of the follow-ups to the first IAF, the second IAF has the objective of promoting partnerships for accelerated investment to build complementarities and share prosperity between Africa and China. The Forum will also showcase a number of projects in African countries with committed or prospective investment from China as well as Guangdong province.
Objective and Theme
The IAF will be structured around five themes; agriculture and agribusiness; cooperation to expand capacity in manufacturing and industrialization; infrastructure development, regional connectivity and renewable energy; skills development, vocational training and job creation; and trade and tourism. An important aspect of each session will be to benefit from the Chinese experience and its relation to specific national and sub-national settings and development priorities in African countries. Equally important will be for Chinese participants to learn from their African partners the opportunities, priorities and challenges of investing in Africa. The WBG will bring in the perspective of its analytical work and ongoing programs in these thematic areas.
The “Investing in Africa Think Tank Alliance” (IATTA) as proposed at the First IAF in Addis Ababa will be formally launched at the second IAF in Guangzhou. It aims to synergize the intellectual capabilities of think tanks and the capital strengths of development finance institutions to promote sustained development and investment activities in Africa and serve as a global platform for multilateral cooperation. China Development Bank’s Research Academy and the World Bank’s Africa region will take a lead in co-sponsoring the IATTA and organizing its activities.