President Muhammadu Buhari will leave for China today to participate in the 3rd Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled to hold September 3 – 4, 2018 in Beijing.
What is FOCAC?
FOCAC stands for Forum on China–Africa Cooperation. Born in 2000, it is an official forum between China and all African countries that have diplomatic relations with it. There are currently 55 members of FOCAC, including China, 53 African countries that have diplomatic relations with China, and the African Union Commission (AUC). Eswatini, (fomerly Swaziland) is not a member of the forum because it does not have diplomatic relations, since it recognizes Taiwan.
There have been two summits held to date. The first was on November 2006 in Beijing while the second held from December 3-4, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
There have however been four ministerial conferences. The first Ministerial Conference was held in Beijing from October 10-12, 2000 with President Jiang Zemin in charge.
The upcoming summit will be the 7th official gathering of the forum.
Official speakers at the 3rd Summit
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda will be one of the four speakers at the opening ceremony of the forum on the afternoon of September 3. The other speakers are President Xi of China, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and the Chairperson of AUC, Moussa Mahamat Faki.
Focus of the FOCAC 2018 Summit
The theme of the upcomng summit is “Towards an even Stronger China-Africa Community with a shared Future.”
Accorimg to China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, who addressed the press during the week, President Xi will deliver the keynote speech and announce new steps in China-Africa ties. He said the new steps will focus on:
- Industrial development
- Trade and investment
- Human resource development
- Science education
- Culture and health
- Envirnmental protection
- Peace and security
The summit will also feature a high-level dialogue between Chinese and African leaders and business representatives. It will involve a conference of Chinese and African entrepreneurs which will be an important side event of the summit.
“The conference will focus on practical and mutually beneficial cooperation and build an important platform for China-Africa business synergy and China-Africa trade ties,” Wang said.
The joint construction of the Belt and Road between China and Africa, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union as well as the development strategies of various African countries will also be on the table.
The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by Xi in 2013. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.
President Buhari’s duties
According to presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the President’s first engagement in Beijing, before the summit kicks off, will be an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in China at the Nigerian Embassy.
Shehu’s statement said after taking part in the main sessions of the summit, President Buhari will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang to discuss infrastructure financing for strategic projects in Nigeria and the upgrading of Nigeria-China relations “from strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership.”
He said the President will also use the occasion of his audience with the Chinese leadership to assess the progress made so far in Chinese interventions in Nigeria’s key priority infrastructure projects, particularly on-going projects in the railway and power sectors.
President Buhari will be accompanied to Beijing by his wife, Aisha, who is scheduled to participate in a Spouses’ Programme on China-Africa at the Great Hall of the People, under the theme, ‘‘Joining Hands for a Future of AIDS.
Garba Shehu in his statement listed 19 politicians on the president’s team. The statement did not list any member of the Nigerian business community even though industrial development, is at the top of the issues to be tackled.
Below is the list of those who would be on the plane with the president
- Aisha Buhari (Wife of the President)
- Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, (Bauchi)
- Governor Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos)
- Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa)
- Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha (Imo)
- Senator Abdullahi Adamu, (Nasarawa)
- Senator George Akume (Benue)
- Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom)
- Senator Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto)
- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama
- Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi
- Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola
- Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello
- Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah
- Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma
- Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu
- Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu
- Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika
- National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno
- Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar
- Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru