China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC)
The China-Africa Cooperation Forum is a platform established by China and friendly African countries for collective consultation and dialogue and as a cooperation mechanism among developing countries. The characteristics of the Forum are twofold. First, it is to strengthen consultation and expand cooperation within a pragmatic framework and second, to promote political dialogue and economic cooperation with a view to seeking mutual reinforcement and cooperation. The Forum, which was established at Ministerial level, has held four sessions in Beijing, China, from 10-12 October 2000; in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 15-16 December 2003; again in Beijing, from 4-5 November 2006; and in Sharm El Sheikh, Arab Republic of Egypt, on 8 November 2009. The 2006 session was at the level of Heads of State and Government to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations between Africa and China.
The FOCAC is a strong partnership, which has gestated over a long period of time. It is doing very well and has the potential of bringing various advantages to the two sides. In many areas, the partnership has delivered some concrete outcomes that are beneficial to Africa although Africa needs to utilize the partnership to the fullest in terms of the potential of the available market and the business opportunities. There is also need to align the partnership to the strategic objectives of the African Union. The magnificent new AU Conference and Office Complex built by the Chinese government free of charge to the AU and commissioned in January 2012, is testimony to the real value this partnership brings to Africa.
Of significance is the fact that the African Union Commission was admitted into FOCAC on 26 October 2011 as a full member and no more as an Observer, during the Senior Officials meeting held in Hahgzhou, China. It will therefore attend the 5th Ministerial FOCAC meeting taking place in Beijing, China, mid-July 2012 in that capacity.