- China’s Belt and Road Initiative helps develop science in Africa
- Agriculture, information technology benefit
China is playing a role in growing science across Africa, with agriculture and information technology key beneficiaries.
A team of Chinese and Kenyan researchers in Nairobi have developed wine-producing grapes. Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the grapes varieties have been engineered to grow in warm, semi-arid environments such as Kenya.
The grapes were produced at the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre, established with the assistance of the Chinese Academy of Science in November 2018. Kenya might one day become a wine producer thanks to this initiative.
China has also introduced strains of rice that could potentially increase Kenya’s rice production by more than 33%, as well as introducing the use of plastic sheets in maize fields to preserve soil humidity for optimal growth.
The Sino-Africa Centre in Kenya has become an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative’s scientific investments in Africa. As the very first centre of its kind between China and Africa, it will be the test case for similar institutions across the African continent.
The planned centres will encourage research into the protection of flora, fauna and biodiversity. The Chinese government contributed $15 million and the China Academy of Science contributed $3 million to the Kenyan centre.
China has become the biggest information technology player in Africa. Chinese-born Huawei has built most of Africa’s 2G & 3G networks and more than 50% of Africa’s 4G networks. Chinese branded smartphones take two of the top three places in sales on the continent.
Chinese artificial intelligence companies, such as Cloudwalk, are starting to enter Africa. Cloudwalk recently signed a cooperation deal with Zimbabwe for facial recognition project on a mass scale. The project has set its sights on improving the ability of artificial-intelligence algorithms to better detect faces with darker complexions. The company will also assist Zimbabwe to build a smarter banking system integrated with technology and to improve surveillance systems at airports, railways and bus stations.
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