Africa hopes China puts trade, COVID-19 help, climate change atop Two Sessions agenda, expert says

The Fourth Session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee opened in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. /VCG
Delegates at a CPPCC National Committee in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. /CFP

Africa hopes to gain from the outcomes of the Two Sessions in Beijing, with particular focus on vaccination, trade and investment as well as climate change, according to Dr Sizo Nkala, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Africa China Studies – University of Johannesburg, South Africa,

The Two Sessions, which opened on Friday and Saturday, are China’s biggest events in the country’s political calendar.

The events represent a key moment in the country’s governmental calendar, combining its top two political meetings; the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The NPC is China’s legislature, comprising nearly 3000 deputies. It is the world’s largest legislative body. The delegates, each elected from China’s provinces and regions and various government departments, in turn, elect a central committee of around 200 full members and 170 alternate members.

Dr Nkala said that beyond this year’s meetings, China and Africa are expected to strengthen cooperation across various sectors.

“One immediate area is that of [COVID-19] vaccination. How is China going to ensure that the pledge of one billion vaccines to Africa is implemented and realized? Two, is in the area of investment. Africa needs investment at the moment because a lot of businesses went under due to the pandemic. So, Africa will need an injection on investment. How is China going to ensure that it increases its investment stake on the continent?”

Dr Nkala says he’s also interested in learning how China’s domestic policies moving forward will help open Chinese markets to African goods. According to the General Administration of Customs of China, the total bilateral trade between China and Africa in 2021 reached a record 254.3 billion U.S. dollars.

A continuation of this trend would be in Africa’s best interest if it is to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic which has battered its economy for more than two years.


A passenger train on the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line stands at a platform ahead of departure at the Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Terminus in Nairobi, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. The railway, funded, built and operated by Chinese agencies, started running between Kenya’s port city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, in 2017. (Photo by Patrick Meinhardt/Bloomberg via Getty)

Dr Nkala says one critical area of potential Africa-China cooperation is climate change and the transition to cleaner energy sources.

“China is already playing a big role in Africa in terms of supplying cleaner energy and renewable energy infrastructure. And Africa needs more of that. So, I think African countries will be watching very closely what the Two Sessions policies or deliberations will be on those areas,” he said.

Dr Nkala also noted China’s importance to Africa’s development agenda.

“I think China should continue cooperating with Africa the way it has been doing because both parties have benefited a lot from this cooperation,” he said.

“There are tangible results on the ground. Infrastructure development that is transforming economies across Africa, trade opportunities that are sustaining firms and businesses across Africa, credit lines in terms of development finance that has sustained economies across the African continent. So, the China-Africa relations have benefited both countries a lot and we need more cooperation. We need more collaboration between these two parties.”