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Young Chinese, Africans meet at digital cooperation seminar

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: October 18, 2021 L M S


Patrice Monkam, PhD candidate at Tsinghua University, gives a speech during the seminar. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The China-Africa Future Leaders Dialogue: Seminar on Digital Cooperation for China-Africa Future Leaders, which was organized by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, was held in Jiaxing, East China's Zhejiang province on Oct 17.

More than 80 representatives from 10 African countries who are now visiting Jiaxing, as well as representatives from Chinese universities, young scholars, and entrepreneurs attended the seminar to discuss how China's digital development has powered its drive for common prosperity. Other topics discussed in the seminar included explorations on future cooperation between China and Africa.

In the seminar, Lin Li, vice-president of CPAFFC, discussed the international contributions that have come from digital development in China.

"The development of China's digital economy leads the world. The results in China have shown that the digital economy not only provides strong support for the steady recovery of the domestic economy, but has also helped the global economy overcome the negative impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital economy has broken geographical boundaries, providing more possibilities for expanding international markets and also making the demand for international digital cooperation more urgent," she said.

Lin emphasized that the purpose of the seminar and the visiting tour was to help African youths understand the real, comprehensive, and modern China, enhance mutual understanding and friendship between young Chinese and African generations, as well as explore the potential for China-Africa cooperation.

Zhejiang's digital economy and digital reforms are quite distinctive in China, making the province a leader in the country.

"The added value of the core industries of Zhejiang's digital economy has increased from 285.4 billion yuan ($44.35 billion) in 2014 to 702 billion yuan in 2020. In the first half of this year, the added value of the core industries of the digital economy in the province demonstrated a 17.6 percent year-on-year increase," said Chen Yanqin, executive vice-president of Zhejiang Provincial People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. 

"Zhejiang has cultivated a large number of leading companies in the digital economy, with its residents becoming the most direct beneficiaries of the digital reforms," Chen added.

Many participating African youths shared the inspiration of China's digital innovation to Africa's digital development and opportunities brought by China-Africa digital cooperation for youths from both sides. 

"I believe Africans can get a better understanding of digitalization by building a strong foundation. We should raise funds to build sustainable infrastructure like smart energy system through the use of renewable energy," said Mohamed Jaward Bah from the Republic of Sierra Leone, who is doing his postdoctoral research at Zhejiang Lab. 

He added that it has been a great opportunity for African youth to be inspired by the significant achievements China has made in digital innovation, which has been boosted by the country's well-developed and strong infrastructure.

"African youth can help Chinese companies set up factories in Africa as the continent has a lot of empty, fertile, and affordable land. Moreover, China is producing a large amount of medical equipment and new smart medical equipment that need to be sold, while many African countries have relatively poor health care systems," said Patrice Monkam from Cameroon, who is a PhD candidate at Tsinghua University, during his in-depth analysis of how China-Africa digital cooperation brings opportunities to Chinese-African youth. 

"Therefore, young Africans can help Chinese medical companies and research institutions trade with local hospitals in African countries, helping improve the efficiency of African countries' health care systems and providing new markets for Chinese medical products," noted Monkam.

Mariatu Kargbo, founder of the Sierra Leone China Friendship Association, said, "We should teach African children to learn Chinese culture and to truly understand and learn from the Chinese experience."