By Frederic Byumvuhore
It is now 5 years since China established its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to accelerate infrastructure development as well as people to people exchange across the world for a shared future.
However, with just a few years down the line BRI impacts have already been asserted to the wide world in terms of tangible benefits.
Ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) to run from Thursday April 25-27 in Beijing, China Global Television Network (CGTN) in collaboration with Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) on Sunday aired a special BRI television show under the theme “Vision into Reality”.
Hosted by CGTN news anchor Tian Wei, the show featured panels, audience interactions as well as sharing the outcomes of the BRI.
The live show aimed to promote the China’s initiative which is widely regarded as a backbone of global economic development.
Before a panel discussion, four journalists from Africa and Asia Pacific shared their personal accounts on how BRI has impacted on their countries’ economic growth. The journalists are among the winners of the recent Belt and Road Essay contest organised by CGTN.
Through his story titled “Fighting BRI is fighting Africa,” Mubarak Mugabo from Uganda’s New Vision newspaper highlighted the outcomes of BRI in the development of infrastructures in Kampala.
“The Belt and Road Initiative has contributed to the development of many African countries. Particularly in Uganda, a number of infrastructure projects have been put in place for instance Kampala Entebbe Express way that connects the congested Kampala city to the Entebbe International Airport. Previously, it took me over two hours driving form Kampala to the Airport but now it takes 25 minutes only,” he said.
Sarah Fathimath from Maldives also shared her own story themed “Bridge of hope for Maldives.”
She said under the BRI a bridge of convenience was born to transform the lives of the people and create their optimism for the future.
“Previously, businesses were not operating effectively due to movement complications to link them with clients but the bridge came to solve all as a result of BRI. Now, movements to the Airport, among other places, have been eased. People can go straight to the Airport,” Fathimath said.
Oscar Galeev from Russian, who authored another winning piece titled “The railroads of tomorrow” emphasised how the railroads under BRI are connecting the world than ever before and how China’s flagship development initiative is turning impossible things into possible.
On her part Lesieli Fonua Talei, a presenter from FIJI revealed how the newly upgraded Vatuwaqa Bride in her country is boosting tourism through smooth travels.
Through her story “BRI: Breathing hope in Fiji,” Talei further stated that under the BRI framework women development and youth empowerment had occurred in Fiji.
In his submission one of the panelists, Andy Mok, said BRI offers countries around the world an alternative development path to the American-led system. Mok is a former researcher at RAND Corporation (an American non-profit global policy think tank) and a non-resident fellow at the Center for China and Globalisation.
“The initiative is creating a vast integrated market centered on the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa that will be many times larger and in not too distant future, more advanced than that of U.S. The BRI countries can chart their own course without interference from outside countries,” Andy said.
Hannah Ryder, Chief Executive Officer of Beijing-based global development consultancy called Development Reimagined also emphasised on how BRI is bringing more opportunities to the developing countries.
“It has been shown in many studies that the more that countries spend on infrastructure, the more their economies grow. It’s not the amount of debt matters, it’s a hype of debt that matters. In particular, is the debt going into projects that will be productive in the future?” said Ryder who is also former head of policy and partnerships for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in China.
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