文｜卡里姆·巴杜拉（Karim BADOLO） 布基纳法索《希德瓦亚报》记者 翻译｜齐晓彤
China and Burkina Faso relations have a steady pace
——Interview with Seydou Sinka,Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burkina Faso
By Karim BADOLO Journalist at Sidwaya daily newspaper, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso and the People's Republic of China resumed diplomatic relations on May 26, 2018. Since then, the lines have been moving along the different fields of this cooperation. In the economic, commercial, health, agricultural and military fields, convincing results have already been achieved in the space of the year of recovery. It is under the sign of dynamism that the Beijing-Ouaga axis is consolidated to the happiness of both peoples. Seydou Sinka is the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burkina Faso. On June 24th and 25th, 2019, he participated in the coordination meeting for the implementation of the actions of the FOCAC 2018 summit. China Investment Magazine had an exclusive interview with him on bilateral cooperation between Burkina Faso and China, China-African relations and the Belt and the Road Initiative.
China Investment: What can you say about the state of bilateral cooperation between Burkina Faso and China after a year of restoring diplomatic relations?
Seydou Sinka: Indeed, Burkina Faso resumed diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China on May 26, 2018. The two countries’ relations were suspended in 1994. After 24 years of rupture, relations have resumed in a more active way and rapid progress pace. It is a dynamic cooperation with a trust established between the two governments which makes it possible to work synergistically on big projects between China and Africa and Burkina Faso as it is with other African countries.
China Investment: Can you give us some examples of achievements since the restoration of diplomatic ties with China?
Seydou Sinka: During the resumption of bilateral relations between the two states, the Burkinabè government had major projects under way as part of the National Plan for Economic and Social Development (PNDES). After the resumption ties, it was a question of seeing what was the priority, that is to say, the projects that could be committed within the framework of Sino-Burkinabe cooperation. The sectors that have been identified as priorities have been the health sector with the refurbishment of the Tengandogo hospital in Ouagadougou and the rehabilitation of the Koudougou hospital. We also have the construction project of the University Hospital Center (CHU) in Bobo-Dioulasso. It will be the largest hospital in West Africa when completed and work will start shortly. In the area of health services, we also have the presence of Chinese experts in Burkina Faso, while Burkinabè health specialists are on internship in China. There are also punctual operations such as cataract surgeries. Chinese experts helped many Burkinabe recovered their sight.
In the field of education, just June 15, a construction project of 100 school complexes courtesy of China. We acknowledged this move anchored on concrete relation with China.
In the field of infrastructures, there are ongoing discussions for the construction of the Ouaga-Bobo highway which extends to Côte d'Ivoire. We hope that the project is conceived at end of the negotiations.
As part of capacity building initiative, some 600 Burkinabè executives from all sectors will benefit from training in China each year. More than a hundred Burkinabè have already benefited from internships for two or three weeks or six months in China.
In terms of youth employment, there are about twenty Burkinabè youths who obtained vocational training in China. The knowledge and skills obtained in refrigeration, mechanic and plumbing will enable them set up their own businesses and be self-employed. These are important venture for the daily life of Burkinabe.
Beyond the high-level exchanges between the leaders, there have been visits of personalities from both sides in both countries. The President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was in China in September 2018 as part of the forum on Sino-African cooperation. On the sidelines of this meeting, Burkinabe businessmen were able to interact with Chinese economic operators. The Foreign Minister led a delegation to Beijing last April as part of the joint commission on bilateral cooperation between Burkina Faso and China. This meeting was an opportunity to present the framework of the cooperation in economic and commercial fields for the next three years. This joint commission had been successfully held reflecting the dynamism of bilateral cooperation between the sides.
China Investment: What are the challenges of bilateral cooperation that is taking root?
Seydou Sinka: The challenges are relative to the pace that our states must follow. It is an accelerated rhythm of which we must know well. Some projects are not yet well tied and this hinders their optimum achievement. We need projects as emphasized by the Chinese side that benefit the people. People need to know that there is good cooperation between China and African countries. The challenges lie in the ability of African states to keep pace and make the most of the benefits for the people.
China Investment: How do you understand China's proposal to develop high-quality cooperation with Africa?
Seydou Sinka: China sees Africa as a full partner with whom it intends to develop peer-to-peer, win-win cooperation. China wants high-quality South-South cooperation. It is often thought that cooperative relations between developing countries are of average quality. China, now a global economic power, wants Africa to reap the benefits of its growth. It is committed in its cooperation with Africa to the principle of community of destiny for a shared future and sustainable development.
China Investment: What is Burkina Faso doing concretely to establish this high-quality cooperation with Africa?
Seydou Sinka: What we do is first to be present in all the discussions that are being conducted with the Chinese partner. It's about staying alert with the diplomatic representations that exist in both countries. We have an embassy in Beijing and the ambassador has just been appointed. He will be here soon. On the Chinese side, the ambassador in Ouagadougou is a very dynamic man who supports us in many of our activities. We are working hard together to achieve the objectives of our cooperation, which will enable our people to benefit from the support of China. Even during the break-up of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Burkinabe men and women continued to frequent visit China. Today, Burkinabè’s trade is very oriented towards China. Chinese products are common in Burkina Faso and throughout Africa. Burkina Faso also exports its products to China. More than 40 types of agricultural products are traded in China. For Africa as a whole about 350 types of products are exported to China. This is to say that there are many things to do. This is why in Burkina Faso, we are very attentive on a daily basis so that everything that has been said can be a reality on the ground. The co-coordinator of the FOCAC meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Senegal stressed the need for African countries to set up internal mechanisms for evaluating this cooperation, including the eight initiatives set out at the September 2018 summit. This is to show the level of achievement of these initiatives.
China Investment: How to promote Sino-African cooperation in a context marked internationally by a unilateralism and protectionism advocated by some?
Seydou Sinka: The current global context is such that China and Africa are a weighty entity. Recognizing this importance allows us to organize ourselves more to benefit from it. Today, China and Africa are for multilateralism and free trade that allow countries to develop. China and Africa must be able to say their words in the current situation of the world and defend their interests. Africa is the continent with the most developing countries. China is a developing country, but an economic power. It goes without saying that these partnerships between these developing entities are made and consolidated in a spirit of community of common destiny. It is undeniable fact that the world cannot do without Africa and China.
China Investment: What role can the China-led "Belt and Road" initiative play in promoting cooperation with Africa?
Seydou Sinka: The "Belt and Road" initiative initiated by President Xi Jinping seeks to develop the world. This is the proposal made by China for the world to develop, so that there is more happiness in the world. This goes through a number of orientations and axes that allow people to live a little better. Burkina Faso, which has just resumed relations with China, has not yet signed the agreement to be a member of the "Belt and Road" initiative, but we are in the process of integrating it. This is a great initiative that will allow member countries to benefit from infrastructure and many other projects that will boost their development and connect people around the world. The Belt and Road Initiative is based on solidarity and sustainable development.
China Investment: Can you name a few areas in Burkina Faso that might interest Chinese investors?
Seydou Sinka: Today, we are talking about a mining boom in Burkina Faso. This is an industry that does not yet record China's presence. I think that the Chinese have a lot of experience in this area and they can invest in it in order to help our country make the most out of it. There are also the renewable energy sectors. We have projects under discussion in the solar energy field that will solve energy issues in our local communities and in very remote rural areas.
In the field of hydro agricultural development, China can showcase its great experience in Burkina Faso. In the infrastructure sector, there is also a lot to do in Burkina Faso. Thanks to the cooperation with China, we can successfully mesh the Burkinabè territory in terms of paved roads. And this will help to open up rural areas and allow farmers to sell their products. If Burkina Faso adheres to the Belt and Road Initiative, we can meet the challenge of road infrastructure.
We have the Abidjan-Ouagadougou-Niamey railway project, which is also important. China's experience in this field is recognized and it could help us to develop our rail network with neighboring countries. Anything that will help reduce freight costs.
China Investment: What are the developmental experiences that both parties draw from each other?
Seydou Sinka: When the Chinese Vice President met with us, he talked about some very important things, namely cooperation based on exchanges at all levels. For example, China is very advanced in technology, but it can also be inspired by Africa in the field of culture, arts. These are areas in which we have a lot to share so that we can enrich each other. There is no sub-country in cooperation. These are relationships of trust that unite our states and each one must take a little of the other in the direction of improving practices. The African and Chinese peoples have a lot to learn together.
文 | 本刊特约记者 维克多·昂严戈（VICTOR ONYANGO） 肯尼亚《民族日报》记者
编辑 | 张梅
设计 | 李玉丹