ARUSHA — The East African Community (EAC) welcomes investors from China to implement various projects in the region with a population of about 300 million, said Peter Mathuki, EAC secretary-general, in a recent interview with Xinhua.
“We welcome investors from China to come and work with us in East Africa so that we can now develop this part of Africa for the good and prosperity of people but also for the prosperity of China,” said Mathuki, adding that China and East Africa have a lot to work together to make sure their economies prosper from the cooperation.
China is one of the most progressive countries that have tried to partner East African countries in so many sectors, and largely supports infrastructure programs in East African countries by grants, financing mechanisms or technical assistance, he said.
“The Belt and Road Initiative aims to ensure that as you develop infrastructure you also increase trade and secure trade routes in a more advanced way, and make countries very interdependent,” said Mathuki, adding that the initiative is not only improving infrastructure in East Africa but also increasing trade volume.
Mathuki has also pledged full support for the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by China at the UN General Assembly last year, saying the GDI will foster global economic partnerships.
“The proposal is very important because it addresses poverty alleviation, food security and COVID-19 response, the issues that touch the hearts of the people of East Africa,” he told Xinhua.
“We are willing to work with China, and we encourage more countries and international partners to take advantage by joining this Global Development Initiative,” said Mathuki.
On the Chinese government’s move to set up a special envoy for the Horn of Africa affairs, Mathuki said, “we welcome that proposal because where there is peace then there is promise of development,” adding that once the Horn of Africa remains peaceful it potentially becomes an economic hub for this continent.
Mathuki has also urged Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa to prepare for and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will create a market of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of about 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.
“In terms of the economies, East Africa stands very strong and the EAC is going to play a very big role in strengthening the AfCFTA,” he said. East African countries should approach AfCFTA as a team, urging investors from China to invest in Africa and capture the huge AfCFTA market, said Mathuki. The EAC groups Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.