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Djibouti – Over 800 business leaders, private sector investors and government economic officials from across Africa and China met in the first Africa Economic Forum and Exhibition to discuss the increasing importance of public-private partnerships to delivering sustainable infrastructures that can advance progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event also explored practical ways to accelerate economic opportunities and boost partnerships across Africa.

The Forum titled “Africa-China Sustainable Cooperation on Economic Structural Transformation: Towards the 2030 Agenda,” came immediately after the formal inauguration of the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone, on 5 July 2018 by HE Ismail Guelleh President of Djibouti. Heads of States from neighbouring Ethiopia, Rwanda Somalia and Sudan also attended the inauguration and emphasized their support to this initiative, which is expected to impact economic growth in East Africa and beyond.

The Forum which provided a space to reflect upon and debate those impacts, was co-organized by the Governments of Djibouti and China; the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA); the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade; and the Made in Africa Initiative; in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Investments in sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure can help boost economic growth, create jobs and increase resilience of societies to climate shocks and other disasters,” said Tegegnework Gettu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator. “Initiatives, such as this conference, which bring an array of public and private partners together across continents, are key to keeping our 2030 promise to ensure that no one will be left behind.”

In its first iteration this year, the forum focused on the recently developed infrastructure in Djibouti—the outcome of a successful public private partnership between China and Djibouti. It also looked at how the African continent can benefit from the improved logistics network passing through Djibouti to increase economic competitiveness, productivity, industrialization and job creation.

“Djibouti holds an important strategic location in the Horn of Africa, near the world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arab oilfields. The country is a key point on the Maritime Silk Road under the Belt and Road Initiative, and is a major connection point between Asian, African and European market. It is the gateway for trade and exchange for East Africa,” said Aboubaker Omar Hadi, DPFZA Chairman. “In the Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority, we have been investing steadily in building our human capital. It is the people of Djibouti who will ensure transforming the country into a major regional hub for commerce, logistics and trade services, and a destination for foreign investment, in line with Djibouti’s Vision 2035.”

In recent years, China has progressively increased its trade and investment cooperation with Africa, and today, it is the largest trade partner for the continent. The current China-Africa economic cooperation builds on many foundations of success. These include industrialization reform efforts in most African countries; China’s industrial production capabilities; global trade enterprises such as the Belt and Road Initiative; and the call of the 2030 Agenda for greater investment in sustainable infrastructure.

The China-Africa economic cooperation has great potential to contribute to growth across Africa, to promote manufacturing, enhance trade relations, and create more job opportunities. This will help African countries strengthen their capabilities to pursue their own development priorities and transform their economies. Ultimately it will enable them to achieve the SDGs and to significantly roll back poverty across the continent.

Following this year’s success, the organizers plan to make the Forum an annual event, hosted in Djibouti, focusing each year on a specific theme related to the 2030 Agenda, and the economic cooperation between African countries and China. The Forum intends to provide a platform for discussion on economic cooperation and trade opportunities between the two economic blocks to enhance industrialization and investment for sustainable development.

For more information please contact

Mohamed Aref, Head of Marketing Department, Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority Email: mohamed.aref@D-PortsFZ.dj Tel: +253 21 359 070 Mobile: +253 77 812 582

Hibo Mohamed, Communication Assistant, UNDP Djibouti Email: hibo.mohamed@undp.org Mobile: +253 77 281 420


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