The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) nurture Africans’ aspiration for an inclusive growth and sustainable development while maintaining the ideals of pan-Africanism and Africa’s renaissance, local experts said here on Thursday.

The BRI offers great opportunities for infrastructure development and investment opportunities in over 60 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa, Bernadette Deka-Zulu, executive director of the Policy Monitoring and Research Center (PMRC), said during the ongoing Africa-China Think Tank Forum that is taking place in Lusaka, the Zambian capital.

“To this effect, therefore, a forum such as this one presents a grand opportunity for Africans and the Chinese to agree on how such resources could be exploited for the mutual benefit of the people in Africa and China who share similar experiences of poverty and development,” she said.

She added that Africa as a continent should be more determined than ever before to monitor its international reputation and develop the right strategy for improvement.

“China is ready to work with Zambia and other African countries to synergise the construction of the BRI, and implement (the results of) the FOCAC Beijing Summit along with Zambia’s development plans,” said Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Li Jie.

Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda and fourth President Rupiah Banda also attend the meeting.

In his remarks, Kaunda praised China for being an all-weather friend to Africa.

It is rare to find such a major country that is willing to help smaller nations, Kaunda said. “Much of what we have achieved as Africans is a result of China’s cooperation with us,” he said.

He urged African nations to strengthen their relations with China, while being optimistic that deliberations and outcomes of the forum, which has brought together think tanks and other participants from various parts of the world, will lead to enhanced development cooperation between China and Africa.

Margaret Mwanakatwe, Finance Minister of Zambia, said there is a need to promote Africa-China cooperation with a shared future, assume joint responsibility and continue to pursue win-win cooperation.

“We need to mutually uphold the common interests of Africa and China, and concurrently implement both the Belt and Road Initiative vis-a-vis the African Union agenda 2063 for sustainable development,” she said.