The second forum on China’s initiated Belt and Road framework of international cooperation successfully held in Beijing,China’s capital city towards the end of last week, from the 25th to the 27th of April at the sprawling China’s national convention center. Attended by almost 40 heads of states and government from across the world and with high level representatives of about 126 countries and 26 international organizations, the Beijing 2nd forum of the Belt and Road initiative, lived up to its reputation as an action-oriented initiative that delivers real outcomes, far from a talk-shop for grandstanding and ambiguous honey-talk that has bedeviled several high level international gathering.
According to the Chinese president Xi Jinping, who addressed the media, following the successful conclusion of the forum about cooperation, agreements worth over 64 billion US dollars were signed and various parties reached 283 deliverables, while leaders at the forum agreed to act on the principles of high standard, people-centered and sustainable development in line with international acceptable standard. In addition to the practical outcomes of the forum, president Xi Jinping added “We enriched the concept of the Belt and Road and jointly re affirmed our commitment to its high quality development guilded by the principles of extensive consultation, joint contributions and shared benefits. The Belt and Road initiative (BRI) which was launched in 2013 and called “project of the century” by president Xi Jinping at the first international Forum of the initiative in May, 2017 is a massive network of global connectivity comprising over land, maritime and digital infrastructures, open to all countries in the world beyond the original silk Road that traversed Europe, Asia and some parts of Africa, about some two thousand years ago. The cornestone of the contemporary silk road that would traverse the whole world is policy coordination, financial integration, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade and people to people contact, among partner countries. President Xi Jinping have repeatedly said that the process of advancing the Belt and Road is inclusion, broad participation and partnership.
About 35 African countries, including Nigeria have signed up to the partnership of the Belt and Road initiative, after recognizing that the core offerings of the initiative are very key elements that the continent desperately needs to drive its vision of renaissance, comprising core economic issues as industrialization and job generations.
At the BRI second forum last week, key African leaders including those from Egypt, Kenya and Ethiopia rubbed minds with their counterparts from Europe, Asia and even South America. UN general Secretary Mr. Anthonio Gutteress and IMF managing Director, Christine Largard were both on hand to lead weight to the forum.
Nigeria however sent a ministerial delegation comprising ministers of Transportation and Finance, who were visibly far away from the spot-light of the real deal. We decry government’s lukewarm attitude to the Belt and Road initiative, now a foremost cooperation mechanism of the international system to advance and bring about tangible outcome of international cooperation. Nigeria has so much take aways from the China initiated framework, given the cordial traditional relationship of the bilateral cooperation. While Nigeria is yet to be robustly engaged to the Belt and Road framework is matter of concern.
We suggest government should set up a commission of experts to critically examine the contents and issues of the Belt and Road International cooperation and help govnerment engage more robustly to it and deploy its offerings to the key national policy flagships of infrastructure renewal, industrialization and sustainable economic growth.