African scholars interested in the growing relations between their continent and China, will have a chance to debate this important topic at a meeting scheduled for March 28-30th 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya.
"It is high-time to involve the African scholars in this process, along with their Chinese counterparts," says Professor Osita C. Eze, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, and one of the scholars promoting the project on July 10th 2010 at a meeting between African scholars in Dakar. "If Africa has to become a global player we need to know and enable African policy-makers to know better who our interlocutors of other countries and regions of the world are," adds Dr. Ebrima Sall, Executive Secretary of CODESRIA; the leading pan-African social science research council and think-tank.
The Nairobi event has been proposed by a Provisional Steering Committee (PSC), in an attempt to lend continental legitimacy to the nascent dialogue between African and Chinese scholars. The PSC represents a group of African scholars who attended the launch ceremony in Beijing, March 31st 2010, of a Joint Africa-China Research and Academic Exchange Program. This Joint Program is one of the innovative measures adopted by the 4th Forum On China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which is the main inter-governmental platform between China and Africa, held in Sharm-El-Sheik, Egypt, last November.
At the Beijing launch ceremony, African scholars supported the proposed mechanism of cooperation with their Chinese colleagues, yet called for wide consultation with their peers in the continent to ensure broad acceptance of the project across the continent. This decision was reached during a private meeting of the African caucus attending the Beijing ceremony. It was also agreed that the PSC would meet in Dakar, at the invitation of CODESRIA, to discuss the future direction and ventures of the new joint institutional mechanism.
Against this background, the Dakar meeting aimed to convene the pan-African gathering of African scholars and think-tanks working on China-Africa relations. Members of the PSC, in addition to Eze and Sall, have been drawn from the various regions of the continent, including: James Shikwati, Director of the Nairobi-based Inter-Region Economic Network; Scarlett Cornelissen, Interim Director of the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University in South Africa; Adama Gaye, Senegalese journalist and China-Africa Specialist; Professor Mohamed Salih, of the Institute of Social Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands; Dr. Stephen Ngwanza, of the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon; and Dr. Mohamed Benamou, Director of the Center of Strategic Studies of Rabat, Morocco.
Close to thirty African scholars took part in the Beijing ceremony, along with representatives of the African diplomatic community. In addition, Angola's Joao Manuel Bernardo, the Acting Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, addressed the gathering. Also present were representatives of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation and dozens of Chinese scholars, including Professor Yang Guang, Director-General of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, of the China Academy of Social Sciences. The event was chaired by Wu Bangguo, an influential member of the China State Council and of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. The event was supervised by Ambassador Lu Shaye , Director General of China's Foreign Ministry, and Secretary General of FOCAC.
The Forum on China Africa Cooperation was established in 2000, and has witnessed a rapid growth in economic relations between China and Africa. Yet in recent years, there has been an increased call for an African conceptual response to the challenges and opportunities associated with China's engagement with the continent. Such emerging academic dialogue is recognised to shown important perspectives.
The Nairobi conference, March 28-30th 2011, will focus on the theme: Towards a New Africa-China Partnership. It will include the formal launching of a Pan-African Forum for Research and Dialogue on Africa-China Relations, in collaboration with Chinese academic institutions. It will seek to build a strong knowledge base on Africa-China relations within Africa, in order to support African policy makers in their engagement with China and the FOCAC.
For further information about this event, please contact:
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop,
B.P. 3304 Dakar, Senegal
Tel : +221-33 824 0374
Fax : +221-33 824 12 89
Email : email@example.com
Director, Inter-Region Economic Network
& CEO of the African Executive
Nyaku House, Mezzanine Floor
Argwings Kodhek Road, Hurlingham
P.O. Box 135 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel : +254202731497
Fax : +254202723258
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org