ADDIS ABABA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- African and Chinese officials on Thursday spoke highly of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a positive impetus to further drive the momentum in China-Africa cooperation.
They made the joint remarks during the Belt and Road Dialogue for China-Africa Cooperation, which was jointly organized by the African Union (AU) and the Chinese Mission to the AU in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on Thursday.
Liu Yuxi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the AU, told the high-level dialogue that China and Africa, which have enjoyed fruitful cooperation over the past decades, have a great opportunity to further deepen their comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership through the BRI and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
"A large number of projects involving railways, roads, bridges, airports and seaports and industrial parks are being implemented, bringing genuine benefits to Chinese and African peoples and enriching the China-Africa Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership," Liu said.
Noting the BRI's vital importance to spur Africa's overall connectivity, digital economy, energy and industrial development, Liu said that the high-level dialogue mainly "aims to provide a platform for China and Africa to jointly address the challenges facing the development of infrastructure, human and financial resources and for Chinese and African businesses to explore business opportunities."
"Africa is an indispensable part of the international cooperation under the BRI. China and Africa should work together within the framework of the BRI and FOCAC to promote policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people affinity, and orient BRI cooperation on a path of high-quality development. Firstly, policy coordination is a platform," he added.
"If China and Africa can join hands in cooperation under the BRI, greater progress will be made to keep China-Africa cooperation on a steady path to long-term development," said the Chinese envoy.
AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid said that "Africa and China believe that Africa is an important partner in the Belt and Road cooperation."
"In implementing the FOCAC action plan, the two sides are exploring and advancing cooperation that promotes continental, regional and sub-regional connectivity," Abou-Zeid said.
"We look forward to working closely and diligently with China under the Belt and Road Initiative to enhance the envisaged infrastructure connectivity as well as people to people connectivity for the good of our two peoples and the world at large," Abou-Zeid said.
Ethiopia's former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, while addressing the high-level continental meeting, also stressed the need to further expand partnership under the BRI from bilateral schemes to a multilateral platform by bringing Africa, under the AU, and China together.
"Today is about how we can strengthen our existing cooperation beyond the bilateral mechanisms towards strengthening frameworks to multilateral engagements," Desalegn stressed, as he described the need to expedite BRI implementation on continental and global levels.
"This is a real time to think out of the box and think on program-wide approach," Hailemariam said, adding "the Belt and Road Initiative gives us this opportunity."
Raila Odinga, AU high representative for infrastructure development in Africa, noted that infrastructure deficit is Africa's major challenge towards development, calling for greater collaboration and partnership among China and Africa under the BRI platform to spur Africa's infrastructure connectivity and energy development.