THE Chinese-proposed Belt and Road Initiative could transform Africa’s economy, says an economic analyst.
According to James Shikwati, director of Nairobi-based think-thank, Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), the Belt and Road Initiative is a game changer because it has made African countries start thinking beyond their national borders.
‘What the Chinese have done is to galvanize the imagination of people to think regionally through cross border infrastructure projects,’ Shikwati said during the release of the Metropol 2019 Kenya Economic Outlook.
He urged African countries that are along the route of Belt and Road Initiative to use it to uplift their communities.
‘It is up to African governments to put in place measures to ensure that they leverage the opportunities provided by Belt and Road Initiative to accelerate their country’s economic development,’ he added.
He observed that the initiative provides an alternative to the traditional financing models offered by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which peg their credit on the size of economy of the recipient countries.
He noted that the Chinese are able to finance projects based on the long term needs of a country.
According to IREN, African countries have a huge infrastructure financing gap that cannot be met solely through public resources.
Shikwati added that African countries will only develop if they are willing to take financing risks to fund their development projects.
He revealed that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development project, dubbed the Big Four Agenda on food security, manufacturing, universal healthcare and affordable housing could also benefit immensely from the Belt and Road Initiative.