BRI has potential to promote regional integration, balance development in Africa: African expert
23 Sep 2020



John Asafu-Adjaye, Head of Research at the ACET


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in a position to make a greater impact in underserved areas in Africa to increase regional integration and global trade, an African expert said.


The year 2020 marks the seventh year since the BRI was first proposed. Over the past seven years, instead of being an attempt by China to dominate global trade, the BRI has actually created win-win situations for Africa and other countries along the routes, John Asafu-Adjaye,  Head of Research at the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), told the Belt and Road Portal in a recent interview.


There are huge development gaps among different regions in Africa in terms of infrastructure, trade and access to energy, said Asafu-Adjaye, noting that cooperation with China helps to address this imbalance.


There is much potential, especially in Africa, for the BRI “to help with access to electricity in rural areas,” Asafu-Adjaye said, adding that this is an issue that has not been emphasized enough. 


Africa is a part of the world where “energy access is very low”, with around 60 percent of the population not having access to energy, according to Asafu-Adjaye. “There is huge demand,” he said.


In December 2019, Chinese and African officials and experts reached consensus at a forum in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, that China-Africa cooperation under the BRI helps bridge Africa's energy access gap, and the two parties should establish a durable partnership to promote technology development for renewable energy, according to the Xinhua News Agency.


"I think this energy deficit can be addressed with green energy,” said Asafu-Adjaye, “The potential [for cooperation] in terms of renewable energy is massive, in terms of wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.”


The private sector can partner with the public sector in this area to “put in place renewable energy technologies, which mostly involve infrastructure as well,” Asafu-Adjaye said, noting that this is where future China-Africa cooperation can take place.


Green transition is also one of the key pillars of Agenda 2063, but African countries currently do not have the capacity to realize the agenda, which “involves massive investments,” Asafu-Adjaye noted.


Agenda 2063 was proposed in 2015 by the African Union (AU). It represents seven aspirations of African development such as regional integration, sustainable development and shared culture, according to the AU.


Some of the green energy projects are taking place mostly in North Africa, which means there is room for cooperation between the rest of Africa and other emerging and developed economies, said Asafu-Adjaye.


Regional integration will allow public resources to be better allocated, according to Asafu-Adjaye. This will in turn help to balance the uneven regional development, he said.

ACET is a Ghana-based economic policy research institute supporting Africa’s long-term growth through transformation. It is also a member organization of the Belt and Road Studies network.


Dr. Asafu-Adjaye is a senior fellow and head of research at ACET. He also assists with providing advice to African policy makers and economic actors to help prosecute the transformation agenda.


Source: Belt and Road Portal