2020-02-22 Saturday


Release time:2015-08-14

The Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference will consider 'development as transformation' approaches to reducing poverty, accelerating broad based growth, and advancing progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.

The emphasis will be on experiences from developing countries, including on China's astounding success in lifting more than half a billion people out of poverty in three decades. At almost every stage of reform over the last thirty years, China charted an independent path. While it studied and learned from international experience, it did not simply import others' models and prescriptions. Its development model and related policies came from within, based on its own understanding of the realities on the ground. China's development was a transformative process, involving and requiring continuous changes not only in the economy, but in institutions and in society. Its leadership (and ruling elites) took on the task of building institutions and investing in capacities to catalyse, and manage the process of change.

Other emerging economies and African countries have also been successful in reducing poverty and advancing human development. The cases of Vietnam and Brazil, for example, are impressive even by Chinese standards. The extreme poverty in Vietnam dropped from 64 percent in 1993 to 22 percent in 2006. This corresponds to a drop of 42 percentage points, more than what China achieved during the same period. Brazil has an equally remarkable story to tell, halving the rate of extreme poverty over from a comparatively low starting point of 17 percent in 1981, to 8 percent in 2005. The gains in infant mortality in Brazil were even more remarkable. In 1981 infant mortality in Brazil stood at 72 deaths per 1,000 live births. In the same year, infant mortality in China was already much lower, at 46 deaths per 1,000 live births. By 2005, Brazil had caught up to China, with both countries registering around 21 deaths per 1,000 live births.

There are notable and increasingly numerous success stories in Africa too, from which we can draw inspiration and lessons. Botswana has been one of the top economic performers globally since the early1970s, mimicking the growth rates of rapidly expanding Asian economies. Ghana has reduced the extreme poverty rate from above 50 percent in 1992 to 30 percent in 2006. Ethiopia offers another stark illustration of how it is possible to sustain amongst the highest growth rates in the world in Africa, while rapidly reducing poverty.

China's success has been an inspiration to other developing countries. The conference will reflect upon the relevance and applicability of lessons from China's experience in the African context. The perspectives will come from Chinese as well as eminent international speakers. They will look at both the successes and the challenges encountered in China's development.

The focus of the conference is squarely on what lessons are transferable and how to adapt the experience of China and other leading emerging economies in the African contexts. Over the last decade Africa has seen rapid and stable economic growth, reductions in poverty rates, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in many parts of the continent. The Conference will thus also provide a platform for African countries to share and learn from its own experiences and policy lessons.