Ban is in Beijing from Tuesday to Thursday to attend the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which was held at the Great Hall of the People Thursday morning.
In his address to the conference, Ban said China and African countries see their future well-being as closely linked with integration in the global economy and marketplace.
“So it is no surprise that you who fill this Great Hall today have entered into a strategic partnership for the future,” said the secretary-general.
Stressing that ties between China and Africa date back to antiquity as Chinese sailors reached East Africa as early as the 15th century, Ban said this relationship of equality and mutual benefit “is scaling new heights,” and “bringing gains to both sides.”
It is creating opportunities for African countries to diversify their economies, create jobs, and improve health care and education, said Ban.
It is also contributing to the world economy at a time when traditional drivers are in economic downturn, he said.
The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC is being held in Beijing from July 19 to 20. The conference will review the implementation of follow-up activities from the fourth ministerial conference of the FOCAC in 2009, as well as examine and adopt the “Beijing Declaration” and “Beijing Action Plan (2013-2015)” to define new cooperative programs to be undertaken over the next three years.
Ban proposed three areas for the FOCAC to further progress.
Firstly, making deeper inroads against poverty.
“We need to increase the development impact of trade and infrastructure projects, especially for the benefit of women and young people,” he said.
It is significant that the FOCAC will convene again in 2015, the target year for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, said Ban.
“I urge you to focus on poverty reduction and social development so that by then, more people here and in Africa will see the difference in their lives,” he said.
Secondly, strengthening African capacity.
Noting that China has already trained thousands of African officials in recent years, Ban said he encourages China to continue sharing this knowledge.
“Africa looks to China not only as a source of funds and trade, but also as a source of technology and innovation,” he said, adding that many Chinese experts, volunteers and businessmen contribute to development in Africa.
Thirdly, building green economies.
Ban called on China and African countries continue their efforts to promote green initiatives as part of their development strategies, so as to “help us to sustain the momentum generated by last month’s successful Rio+20 conference.”
Countries that embrace sustainable energy will improve public health, safeguard the environment, increase prosperity and reduce the risk of climate change, said Ban.
Calling energy “the golden thread that weaves together these and other key concerns,” Ban said he looks forward to working with China and Africa to realize the great potential of the efforts in this area.
“The United Nations family is strongly committed to supporting China-Africa cooperation. The UN system is intensifying its collaboration with China on South-South cooperation in ways that benefit the countries of Africa,” the secretary-general said.
“Durable peace, truly sustainable development, a future of prosperity and dignity for all: this is our common agenda – China, Africa and the United Nations,” Ban said.
The FOCAC is a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries launched in 2000.