President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Monday visited a Taiwan-sponsored vocational training center in Burkina Faso, where he was warmly welcomed by the trainees.
The Centre de Formation Professionnelle de Reference de Ziniare was established in December 2010 as a key part of a seven-year cooperation program between Taiwan and the west African nation.
Taiwan provides technical assistance to the center to help train people as electricians and to teach skills in the fields of electrical and mechanical engineering, auto and motorcycle repair and maintenance, construction, precision machinery, baking and communications teaching.
In the facility’s mechanical training area, trainees lined up to welcome Ma, shouting “President Ma” and sang the popular Taiwanese song Hard Work Equals Winning (愛拼才會贏), drawing a smile from the president and a thumbs-up.
Ma also tasted pineapple cakes made by trainees in the baking training area and described them as “perfect with their added African flavor and friendship.”
Ma said that five or six countries in Southeast Asia are currently preparing to send their teachers to Taiwan to receive vocational training, an indication of Taiwan’s “credible record” in the field.
The president later attended a dinner with Taiwanese working in Burkina Faso and said he was deeply moved by their contributions to the country.
Those who attended the dinner included Huang Chi-lin (黃其麟), head of Taiwan’s medical mission, who has practiced medicine in Africa for 20 years, and Tsao Hsin-chien (曹行健), head of the country’s technical mission.
The president, on his first visit to Africa, said he was moved by what he had seen so far and spoke in glowing terms of his visit to the Ziniare training center.
“The center could become the most precious asset of many people and change their lives,” Ma said, describing Taiwan’s contribution to the center as representing one of the most important values behind Taiwan’s existence.
“We’re an asset rather than a liability to the world. I express my admiration to all of you for helping turn us into the strongest asset possible,” he said.
Ma arrived in the landlocked country on Sunday on the first leg of a tour of three African diplomatic allies that will also take him to The Gambia and Swaziland.