The 2017 International Conference on Public Administration (ICPA) and International Symposium on West African Studies (ISWAS) has been held at the University of Cape Coast,UCC, with a call on African leaders to capitalize on their relationships with China to better the lots of their citizenry.

Dr. Akwasi Osei of the Delaware State University, USA, said the relationship between Africa and China could lead to the progress of the continent. However, he noted that the continent was under-developed as a result of dissonance, selfishness and greed on the part of some African leaders and implored them to refrain from such negative tendencies.

Dr. Osei made these remarks while delivering a paper on the topic “In Africa’s Hands: Engagement with China, Chance for Self-determination.”

He added that for the continent to witness massive development, it was crucial for African leaders to use the resources they benefit from the Chinese relationship for their intended purposes, such as the construction of  good roads, job creation, infrastructure and industrialisation. Dr. Osei noted that for over half a century, Africa has traded mostly with the West. However, he said, in 2000, African leaders and China began a series of meeting dubbed, “The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC),” which was aimed at creating a platform for equal dialogue based on realistic and pragmatic principles between China and African countries.

He observed that the continent had been a dependent economy "tied to the apron strings of external economies through the provision of  raw primary agricultural products, such as cocoa, palm oil, forest products and raw minerals like gold, bauxite, phosphate, diamond, among others".

He said that in the 90s, Africa was the “least developed area of the world by any objective measure: low in  growth rate, low agricultural productivity, low investment and above all a crushing debt”.

He, consequently, laid the blame on the doorstep of the "backward leadership class that preyed and imposed dictatorships on its people".

Speaking on the “Role of Pastoralists Tradition Cultural Institutions in Climate Change Resilience in West Africa", a lecturer at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs Syracuse University, USA, Prof John Mcpeak said there are four key shocks to dryland production systems, such as climate, health, market and conflict.

He mentioned decentralization, participation, adapting to formal government logic and conflict management as the opportunities available for meaningful collaboration on land use.

Prof. Mcpeak explained the increase access to global climate change funds, use of funds to implement public goods that respond to community needs and building capacity to select public goods in participatory manner as also opportunities for meaningful collaboration on local public goods and adaptation planning.

For his part, the Chairman of the University Council of the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), Prof. Wang Zhiqiang, said ISWAS focused on hot developments in west African countries. He added that UESTC had made giant contributions to the Chinese economy and Information Technology (IT) development. Prof. Zhiqiang said UESTC had churned out a lot of graduates who were contributing remarkably to the growth of the Chinese economy.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ampiah Ghartey Ampiah, in his welcome address, urged participants in the symposium to exchange ideas and forge networks.