Bejing’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will complement the growth of Africa’s continental free trade, according to Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority.
“I am expecting more movements of goods, infrastructure development from the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation slated for April in Beijing, as well as stronger interconnection between Africa and the rest of the world,” he told Xinhua News on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum.
Hadi explained that projects involving cooperation with China (such as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway and the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone) are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region.
The official added that more than $40 billion in exports and imports has been recorded through Djibouti ports, which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as sea ports and railway connections.
According to Hadi, proper infrastructure will help trade across the African continent flourish because Djibouti serves as a gateway to big markets outside Africa.
He also said the accusations against China made by Western countries about letting some African countries fall into a debt trap due to cooperation on the BRI are “complete nonsense,” as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.
Beijing’s development and investment BRI megaproject which was announced six years ago by President Xi Jinping covers 152 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. It is expected to significantly boost global trade, cutting trading costs by half for the countries involved.