The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has helped boost the overall social welfare in the Middle East and Africa, and is highly anticipated to facilitate the overall economic and social development there.
The initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.
A BOON TO GROWTH
According to Suleyman Sensoy, head of the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), the Middle East, despite "all the richness and strategic position," has been confronted with the fundamental "weakness in the institutional infrastructure."
"The lack of qualified human resources, of relative competitive advantage, of added value production, and of the share of the global market also deepen the development problems," he said.
Dr. Baris Adibelli from Turkey's Dumlupinar University said "the creation of prosperity depends on a sustainable development. There is a need for resources and infrastructure that support this long-term process."
The Belt and Road projects are an important platform that would meet all these needs, he noted, as they "offer an opportunity for regional countries to create their own dynamism by suggesting common trade, development and welfare rather than just offering financial help."
In the eyes of Gerishon Ikiara, lecturer of international economics at the University of Nairobi, Kenya's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative "has demonstrated its socio-economic benefits in the past five years and the years ahead."
"By being paratroopers of the Belt and Road Initiative, Kenya has received a large amount of financial resources. This is rapidly modernizing Kenya's infrastructure," he noted, adding the initiative "opens up Kenya and the region to the global trading routes."
The al-Ahdab oil field project in Iraq's Wasit province, developed by both Chinese and Iraqi companies, has grasped the benefits of the initiative and elevated its oil processing ability to 7 million tons per year, bringing 13.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of revenue to the Iraqi government and some 5,000 jobs to the local people.
According to Iraqi official statistics, the country's national unemployment rate in 2016 was as high as 16 percent and over 30 percent of population lived in poverty.