In Ottawa on 20-21 September 2012, the China Institute of the University of Alberta, in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), convened a conference to explore Chinese and Canadian experiences, policy options, and outlooks for constructive engagement in Africa’s growth and development. An invited group of distinguished scholars, private sector representatives,and officials from Canada, China, the USA,Europe, and a number of African nations assembled at IDRC for 1.5 days of open discussions under Chatham House rules. The conference was organized around six panels, each followed by an open question-and-answer exchange.
Four overarching themes emerged from the Panels. First, myths and generalizations about China’s resurgence in Africa obscure, or lag behind, the realities and the nuances. Second, China, Canada, and Africa are not monolithic actors. Third, Africa and China are more important to each other than ever before. At the same time, Africa is becoming increasingly salient to Canada for economic and foreign/security policy reasons.With its growing middle class and rapid population growth, Africa is likely to have a population over 2 billion by 2050, with a very high percentage of Africa’s population being of working age. Fourth,China’s engagement with Africa is not unproblematic,but Chinese policy towards African countries has been adapting across many dimensions.