China-Africa telecom cooperation could receive a boost

GENEVA, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between China and Africa is bound to scale new heights in information and communications technology (ICT), an industry head said recently.


Mukhisa Kituyi (1st L), Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Zhao Houlin (2nd L), Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (1st R), Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), pose for a photo with Robot Sophia, an artificial intelligence humanoid robot, at the 2nd AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 15, 2018. (File photos: Xinhua)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-general Zhao Houlin made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua ahead of the upcoming Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled for early September.

Zhao pointed out that China and Africa represent different stages on the same development path. He said that Africa overall remains in a primary stage of development with huge potential yet to be unleashed, similar to China's trajectory decades ago.

China has largely alleviated poverty and emerged increasingly stronger with the adoption of groundbreaking measures since the launch of its reform and opening-up policy, with a rich history of experience to share with African countries, Zhao said.

Cooperation between the two countries dates back to as early as the 1960s when newly-independent African countries one after another sought to establish friendly relations with China, the ITU chief said.

Noting that more and more African people have felt the tangible benefits of relations with China, and African leaders are recognizing the potential of cooperation, Zhao said he believed that the September summit will provide a better platform for future collaboration.

"Countries such as Senegal, South Africa and Rwanda all expressed their hope to strengthen cooperation with China regarding the construction of ICT infrastructure," Zhao said, adding that "currently, many African countries have placed ICT infrastructure construction in a strategic position, setting specific near-term goals."

According to the ITU chief, every 10 percentage points increase in broadband penetration rates contributes to GDP growth by one or two percent in developing countries.

Increased broadband access is a real blessing to African countries, which can effectively boost the economy, he said.

As many African countries are eagerly seeking self-reliance and independent development, they pin their hopes on a large number of African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which have played a significant role in boosting ICT infrastructure construction here, Zhao said.

"China has a wealth of experience in the use of ICTs by SMEs and can thus provide them (African enterprises) with many opportunities for cooperation," he said.

Moving forward, China and Africa could further expand regional and multilateral cooperation in telecommunications, providing greater support for regional connectivity and inter-country exchange, Zhao said.

The ITU, China and Africa are expected to discuss plans on strengthening tripartite collaboration, the Zhao said.