Africa-China Cooperation: Dar-Es-salaam Consensus is Right Step to Building a Community of Shared Future

Admin (Posted on )

By George Musiime

While describing China-Africa cooperation, Chinese officials have always argued that there are two fundamental thrust forces  to the thriving cooperation between China and Africa. The two are;  one, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and two, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The FOCAC, is also the flagship vehicle for people to people exchanges between Africa and China. China’s emphasis on people to people connections is premised in an understanding that, Amity between people is the bedrock of state-to-state cooperation which one can argue is the foundation of win-win cooperation China emphasises.

It is therefore no wonder that China has been standing at the forefront of putting people to people connection first in all its diplomatic undertakings. In line with this commitment to promote people to people connections, China and Africa have held sub forums of the FOCAC including the China-Africa peace and security forum, people forum, poverty reduction and development forum, young leaders’ forum, Think Tanks Forum, the ministerial forum on China-Africa health Cooperation, forum on China-Africa local government Cooperation and the FOCAC legal forum.

In effort to advance this agenda, in collaboration with Chinese Embassy in Tanzania, Zhejiang Provincial People’s Government, Jinhua Municipal People’s Government, Zhejiang Normal University and Unoiversity of Dar es Salaam organised the thirteenth edition of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF) which was held in Dar-Es-salaam under the theme; “China-Africa Practice: Building a Community with a Shared Future.”  The During  his key note address at the opening of the forum, Mr. James Mdoe the Permanent Secretary in Tanzania’s ministry of education pointed out that the goal of the forum was to  focus on exploring China-Africa cooperation mechanisms, strategic initiatives, and practical actions in the fields of industrialization, agricultural modernization, and human resources training. Moreover,  the Deputy Vice chancellor University of Dar-Es-salaam made a call for increased  Cooperation especially in the area of research across a diversity of fields adding that this would set Africa on a fast track to modernization.

The CATTF brought together more than 300 members from the Academia, Think Tanks, as well as government officials from both China and at least 49 African countries with the objective of discussing China-Africa relations in the broader global context. The thirteenth edition of the forum came up in a unified China-African voice on numerous geopolitical matters afflicting the world but most prominently Africa today in what has been termed as the “Africa-China Dar-Es-salaam Consensus.” This document was the brainchild of African and Chinese experts in which they shared insights on how to address not just the many  geopolitical challenges facing the world today but also injustices that have been suffered by Africa in the corridors of international relations.

Among other things, the forum called on the world to deepen development cooperation explaining that,  such cooperation to be beneficial to all especially the developing world, it must be built on mutual understanding, solidarity, with the goal of shared prosperity in mind.  Additionally, the consensus further made a call to all countries to endeavor to build and uphold a people centered approach to development. Ideally, “a people centered approach to development” is one that prioritizes the needs, aspirations and wellbeing of people and communities throughout the entire process of development. Such an approach must believe in ensuring that development initiatives are responsive to the concerns, values and priorities of the people and beneficiary communities. The spirit of the consensus is that only through fostering participatory development processes are we able to achieve meaningful and equitable development outcomes.  This is exactly what Africa and the rest of the global south needs; the creation of a sound institutional environment that will enable all citizens of the world to work towards a better life unimpeded.

In light of responding to the tumultuous global security landscape, the consensus urged the world to promote dialogue over conflicts. China for example has been a strong voice for negotiated solution to two of today’s major conflicts because of the understanding that the price of conflict is way to high for us to pay. In fact, the more we fan conflicts, whether it is by providing armaments for the warring parties or frustrating attempts at dialogue we are practically turning people on both sides of the conflict into Canon fodder and this can never be the blueprint for building a prosperous world.  Such is the background of the Dar-Es-salaam Consensus’s  call for dialogue over conflict. Moreover, building on the understanding that globalization must coexist in the same space with diversity,  the consensus also called for the respect of everyone’s culture, history, and traditions.  Even in a global village, people must be allowed to live and practice their culture. It is attempts to overrun or water down the culture, history and identity of people that has in some instances resulted into resistance and eventually some of the world’s bloodiest  conflicts. In fact this call is more in alignment with multilateralism over hegemony as a path to  global peace and harmony.

Furthermore, the imposition of a prearranged pathway to modernization was referenced as a major challenge that the south has struggled with for decades because what has worked for one country may not necessarily work for the next. Thus in response to this divergence between development aspirations and strategies, the Dar-Es-salaam Consensus called for giving countries a chance to pursue their own path to modernization. These are paths that take into account their culture, history,  traditions, and are tailored to their unique development needs. Accordingly, the Dar-Es-salaam consensus called for strengthening global economic governance and pushed for reforms in the global financial systems in order to create an environment where all nations of the world big or small, developed or developing will be able to thrive and to reach the universal goal of shared prosperity.

The output of the 13th CATTF therefore is a document that seeks redress or at least limit the chance that Africa will suffer the same injustices that the continent has suffered over and over again in the space of International Relations. The Dar-Es-salaam  Consensus is the tool that has been used to communicate this position and  call the rest of the world to cease trying to take advantage of Africa in order to build sustainable development bonds with Africa and the global south.

George Musiime is a Research Fellow at The Development Watch Centre.


Development Watch Centre

Kampala - Uganda


Plot 212, RTG Plaza,3rd Floor, Office Number C7 - Hoima Road, Rubaga


+256 703 380252

© DWC - All rights reserved - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy