Talks .

CIIE 2019 .

By Isabel dos Santos .

Africa's future goes through the Asian continent

For the last 20 years, China’s growing economy has been one of the key driving forces and anchors of growth of the world economy. At China International Import Expo 2019, in Shangai, China, I stated that thanks to its “One belt, one Road” strategy, China’s vision is now making sure that global growth, will, in turn, contribute to consolidating China’s economic strength in the long run.

In the case of Africa, China’s import tax policy, at zero tariffs, for products “Made in Africa”, is an extraordinary opportunity to increase the African presence and trade with China, and to grow and prosper our products, our businesses, our economies, and our communities.

Selling our “Made in Africa” products in the Chinese Market allows job opportunities and job creation for Africa’s young people.

President Xi Jinping’s speech at the Opening Ceremony inspired me with three concrete ideas that would help boost trade between China and Africa:


The first idea, a recommendation to African governments:

We need to improve our performance and efficiency as an export platform to China if we want to take full advantage of the opportunity to enter the Chinese market. To do this, it will be necessary to improve the proximity and the quality of the dialogue between the private sector companies and the local government authorities.

As an example, I went to Shanghai to promote the latest product of our new brewery based in the green belt of Luanda, the capital of my country, Angola. Luandina is a premium beer, a resolutely African product, of great quality, made with the best ingredients.

We designed Luandina inspired by the strength of the wilderness of our continent, the purity of the water of our rivers, the refined beauty of our culture so that it is the best African beer.

The potential offered by the opening of the Chinese market is unlimited. So, it is imperative to reduce long bureaucracy and delays in the export process at the Port of departure. We must increase our efficiency. Similarly, local costs are still too high in proportion to the total cost of export operations.

This dialogue and this proximity between private and public entities are fundamental in order to capitalize and use the window opened to the Chinese market for African products and generate economic growth and jobs for Africa.

Isabel dos Santos at China International Import Expo 2019 - Shangai, China

The second idea, a request:

President Xi Jinping expressed his vision for a more inclusive and equitable global trade to be more robust. Fairness in trade is a fundamental concept, and different from the concept of equality.

We need the support and goodwill of China to help promote and give access to “Made in Africa” products to e-commerce platforms.

Equality would require that African e-commerce platforms be treated like any other product in the world.

Through giant e-commerce platforms, we can work together and be a concrete example of China’s vision to establish a more diverse and more equitable international trade.

One of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is Decent Work and Economic Growth Africa needs a level playing field to be able to trade and sell “Made in Africa” products, and this way we can achieve Africa’s economic growth.

The third idea, a thought:

In Africa, wisdom is generally expressed in proverbs. I was particularly touched by President Xi Jinping’s message: “Young people in China always say that the rest of the world is so big, and we would like to see more of it” and we tell you: “come to China to discover our huge market”.

I represent a new generation of African entrepreneurs who is a new economic reality of our continent. African businessmen and women are increasing their presence globally, outside of Africa.

And it’s our ambition, it’s our wish as African business to be present in the Asian continent, and especially in China.