How China can help the African economy recover from Covid-19 – Quartz Africa


Much of Ethiopia’s international coverage last week focused on its demand for debt relief under a new framework agreed last year by the Group of 20 countries, including China. . The initiative is designed to help poorer countries cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the question of how Ethiopia manages its debts, especially through this program, is extremely important, it is only one aspect of the country’s recovery from the pandemic and its future prosperity. A major challenge is how it can increase trade and exports, which currently only contribute 7.9% to its GDP, one of the lowest in Africa. This is a major objective of Teshome Toga, Ethiopia’s ambassador to China for two years.

In an exclusive interview for our Africa Unconstrained: Perspectives on the Continent’s New Era Video series, in partnership with Quartz Africa, the Ambassador discussed the Ethiopian government’s strategy for working with China and its goal to increase and add value to exports to the country.

How and why? The Beijing-based ambassador is keenly aware that China’s new domestic recovery strategy against Covid-19, which focuses on what the government calls “dual circulation,” could have big implications for trade flows of people. African countries. China hopes with this strategy to develop its domestic consumer market as well as its high-tech manufacturing, and reduce the country’s dependence on exports of low-value manufactured products and singular sources of imports in China.

This new strategy could be positive for Africa, unlike countries that currently export high-tech, value-added products to China, such as the United States, Germany, France or the United Kingdom. In 2018, African countries only accounted for 4.1% of Chinese imports, mainly raw natural resources and agricultural products. The continent could benefit from the diversification of trade and the growth of consumer markets implied by the new policy.

At least that’s what Toga is betting on whenever he travels through China or participates in live streaming sessions to promote Ethiopia as a trade and investment destination to consumers, manufacturers and local leaders of the Chinese government.

In our interview, Toga, who was previously Ethiopia’s Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, speaks candidly about the challenges the country currently faces in paying for the country’s continued response to Covid-19, as well as the government’s aspirations to attract more concessional loans from China and more. direct investment by Chinese companies (the interview took place before Ethiopia’s candidacy for the G20 program.) The need is dire. Despite all of its growth over the past decade, 82% of Ethiopia’s population still do not have access to the internet, 70% do not have access to clean water and 55% do not have access to electricity. .

The ambassador also shares his views on the importance for African countries to work together to make the most of relations with China and other development partners.

This interview is the second in our Africa Unconstrained video series, following our first on the African debt narrative. Throughout 2021, Development Reimagined and Quartz Africa will share insights from key African opinion leaders on some of the most sensitive issues in the African economy and on the relationship between African countries and China.

Watch Ambassador Toga’s interview here and visit the bespoke website,, for more information.

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