Remarks by Assistant Foreign Minister Deng Li At China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum
2021/08/24

Your Excellencies Director Zhuang Rongwen and Deputy Director Zhao Zeliang,
Your Excellencies Ministers and Ambassadors,

Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum. On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I wish to express warm congratulations on the opening of the Forum and sincere greetings to African government officials responsible for Internet development, representatives of Chinese and African Internet firms, and experts and scholars that are attending the event online.

In our world today, the rapid advances of new-generation digital technologies have transformed the means of social production, created new possibilities in our life, and opened up new areas of state governance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital economy has bucked the trend and provided an important driver for global recovery. When chairing the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 last year, President Xi Jinping stressed that China will explore broader cooperation with Africa in such new business forms as digital economy, smart city, and 5G. Beginning from last year, Africa's first 5G standalone commercial network, undertaken jointly by Chinese and South African companies, has completed construction, and Senegal's National Data Center, supported by Chinese funding and technologies, has been officially launched. The Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) has helped African products reach Chinese consumers. Huawei's "Seeds for the Future" program and Alibaba's "Africa's Business Heroes Competition" have also contributed to the training of young African professionals in the Internet industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

During his visit to Africa earlier this year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the proposal for China and Africa to cooperate in building a Digital Africa. Just now, Director Zhuang Rongwen called for the building of a China-Africa community of shared future in cyberspace. China's initiatives are not empty visions that stay only on paper. Taking the opportunity of the Forum, I wish to announce that China is ready to work with Africa to formulate and implement a China-Africa Partnership Plan on Digital Innovation.

First, strengthening the digital infrastructure to unclog the information artery of economic and social development. China will share its digital technologies with Africa to promote digital infrastructure connectivity. Chinese enterprises will be encouraged to work with their African partners to participate in digital infrastructure projects including fiber optic backbone networks, cross-border connectivity and new-generation mobile communication networks. We will also help expand Internet access in Africa's remote areas to connect the last mile of the information network.

Second, growing the digital economy to promote integrated development of digital technologies and the real economy. China will support Africa in raising the level of digitization in the public and corporate sectors and promoting industrialization by applying new technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and mobile payment. China will strengthen e-commerce cooperation with Africa to bring more quality African products into the Chinese market, and leverage cross-border e-commerce to speed up the integration of Africa's information and industrial chains.

Third, promoting digital education to overcome the "talent bottleneck" that constrains digital innovation. China will implement the "Talented Young Scientist Program", the "Cirrus Innovative Talent Exchange Program" and other initiatives to step up China-Africa cooperation on distance education and provide further support for Africa in training young talents in digital-related fields. We will also encourage Chinese enterprises to enhance exchanges and cooperation with Africa's digital innovation professionals.

Fourth, promoting digital inclusiveness to benefit the wider African public. China will support African countries in applying digital technologies to transportation, medical care, finance and other livelihood areas, building "smart cities", and leveraging digital technologies to strengthen state governance and control the pandemic. Chinese enterprises will be encouraged to participate in the development of Africa's public service platforms such as e-government networks and e-payment and digital currency services.

Fifth, jointly upholding digital security and enhancing digital governance capacity. China welcomes African countries' participation in the Initiative on Jointly Building a Community With a Shared Future in Cyberspace and the Global Initiative on Data Security. We stand ready to work with the African side to strengthen dialogue and communication in such areas as cybersecurity emergency response and Internet-related legislation, shape an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for digital development, and explore and formulate global rules on digital governance.

Sixth, building cooperation platforms to promote digital progress through exchanges. China stands ready to explore with Africa the establishment of a high-level dialogue platform on China-Africa digital cooperation, and strengthen communication and exchanges with African governments and organizations such as Smart Africa. China will continue to host activities such as the "China Innovation Tour for African Young Scientists" and support the building of the China-Africa Innovation Cooperation Center.

China will work with the African side to formulate and implement this partnership right away and strive for early harvests. With the support of the Chinese side, several fiber optic backbone network projects that the African side pays much attention to will soon be implemented. In early September, the Internet Society of China and Chinese e-commerce companies will jointly hold an "African Products Online Promoting Season". In the China-Africa BDS Cooperation Forum to be held later this year, the two sides will explore the use of satellites, remote sensing and other high-end information technologies to support Africa's efforts in environmental protection, agriculture and disaster surveillance. We will also work with Africa to make plans for the digital cooperation initiatives to be launched in the next three years, which will be included in the outcome document of the next FOCAC meeting.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Africa's digital economy promises bright prospects, and China-Africa digital cooperation has much to offer. China stands ready to work with Africa to build a Digital Africa, improve the well-being of the Chinese and African peoples, and open a new chapter in the building of a China-Africa community of shared future in cyberspace.

With that, I wish the China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum a full success.

Thank you.

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