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China Cooperates with Africa to Encourage Digital Transformation

To deepen China-Africa cooperation, China’s Ministry of Commerce said it will step up efforts to formulate specific work plans for nine programs in areas like digital innovation.

Experts said that as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates digital transformation in many economies, a deeper China-Africa partnership in digital innovation is of greater significance. According to the digital innovation program, China will undertake 10 digital economy projects for Africa, set up centres for China-Africa cooperation in satellite remote-sensing application and support the development of China-Africa joint laboratories, partner institutes, and scientific and technological innovation cooperation bases.

The nine programs, as part of the first three-year plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035, will not just promote partnerships in poverty reduction, trade and investment, but further tie in emerging areas such as the digital economy, low-carbon development, and vocational education.

– Shu Jueting, Spokeswoman, Ministry of Commerce

Moreover, China will work with African countries to expand e-commerce cooperation, hold online shopping festivals featuring quality African products and tourism e-commerce promotion activities and launch a campaign to market 100 African stores and 1,000 African products on e-commerce platforms.

Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the global economic recovery is very unbalanced among regions and development gaps in the digital economy and green technologies are among the factors that fuel such unbalances. The digital divide in Africa is becoming even more challenging during the pandemic.

As the pandemic has severely disrupted traditional trade and investment activities while speeding the development of the digital economy, it is of great significance for Africa to tap digital economy potential to drive economic growth and strengthen global connections. At the same time, strengthened China-Africa cooperation in the digital economy will facilitate the formation of international consensus to establish more effective, widely accepted, and comprehensive rules in the sector, to create a more stable environment for growth and global cooperation in the digital economy, and that is also valuable because the digital economy is becoming a key area for global competition.

Currently, Chinese companies are actively investing in African countries to build digital infrastructure, offer vocational training for local people and provide internet services. For example, a Chinese telecom company kicked off a course that aimed at preparing local students studying information and communications technology for the future of work.

The course aims to inspire local talent, enhance knowledge sharing, promote a greater understanding of, and interest in, the information and communications technology sector, and encourage participation in the digital community. The course focuses on the latest technologies like 5G, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, China’s top industry regulator unveiled a five-year plan to accelerate the integration of digital and real economies amid a broader push to lay down a policy framework for the nation’s industrial development until 2025.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said accelerating the deep integration of information technologies in all industrial chains is of great significance to promote industrial digitisation and digital industrialisation in the new era. According to the five-year plan, the ministry will adopt five special initiatives, including promoting manufacturing digital transformation and industrial internet platforms, to advance industrial upgrade.

The five-year plan put forward both quantitative and qualitative objectives. For instance, by 2025, the nation aims to grow the penetration rate of industrial internet platforms to 45% and the popularisation rate of digital research, development and design tools to 85%.

China will accelerate the construction of a digital government to improve administrative services. Accordingly, the country should create a national digital government network to improve regional and interagency information sharing and ensure its digital public services cover more sectors and become more accessible.

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