- Chinese President Xi Jinping launched his grand vision in 2013
- The plan incorporates two physical routes linking China to a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa
Africa falls into the Maritime Silk Road route that begins in China and passes along the Ocean littoral to East Africa and then follows onto Europe. The other route is the Silk Road Economic Belt which stretches from Asia to Europe.
The Chinese government created this initiative to enhance regional connectivity and reduce barriers to trade. The One Belt One Road’s key sectors are energy and power, infrastructure projects, public utilities, construction and transport logistics, technology and financial markets.
The project has been widely criticized as a platform for China to grow its world dominance. While there are risks, the initiative has positive aspects in store for Africa.
The Maritime Silk Road reaches more than 12 African countries in East and South-Eastern Africa, North Africa and inland. Some of these countries were difficult to access before. The Belt and Road Initiative opens them up to increased trade traffic.
The One Belt One Road is intended to be two-directional, promoting Chinese outbound investments and encouraging international investment along the routes. This allows African companies to work easily with China in developing projects along the routes.
Africa is estimated to have an infrastructure deficit of $170 billion, according to the African Development Bank. This deficit is dampening Africa’s potential to grow. Goods and services cannot move as freely as they should throughout Africa due to the lack of infrastructure.
The One Belt One Road initiative could assist Africa to close this gap over the long term. The initiative will increase Chinese investment into Africa as well as potential private sector relocation to Africa which could directly feed into job creation and income growth.