China’s ever-growing presence and influence amidst the resource rich African continent has invigorated optimism amidst contempt and pessimism.
Being Africa’s largest trading partner with over US200 billion worth of GDP , has prompted experts to question China’s sincerity and motive behind the Asian giant untainted growing interest and influence in the world’s richest continent in natural resources.
Being undoubtedly the world’s largest and fastest growing economy, China’s meteoric rise has been spurned rapid by industrialization and technological expansion. There are an estimated more than 800 Chinese owned corporations doing business in Africa. Most of these companies have interests in infrastructure, energy, minerals and technology.
The luke warm relations with the Asian giant dates back to nationalistic movements years of the 60s and 70s wherein military and technical support was offered African liberation organizations in their quest for independence from Western imperialism and colonialism. Apart that China evidently began infrastructural projects in Africa, notably the 1.876 Tazara railway line linking Zambia and Tanzania. The Asian giant also funded the 2500 seat African Union Headquarters complex in Addis Abbaba , Ethiopia with capital value of over US200 million.
China’s deep pockets have long bought influence in Africa, where President Xi Jinping has pledged billions more in investments in coming years.
China is amplifying its voice across Africa via StarTimes , a state owned though privately owned , Chinese media and telecoms firm that beams Chinese content, and Chinese world view via subsidiaries in 30 African countries into African households.
As a member of BRICS since 2010 South Africa has given China the leeway into the SADC accessing to natural resources that support her growth with acute marginal benefits to the indigenous people. The relationship with South Africa is far more than economic, diplomatically Dalai Lama has been denied visa on the numerous attempts to visit South Africa in support of ‘One China Policy’.
Meanwhile in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta was one of the two African leaders offered a seat at the Belt Road Forum in Beijing last year, and Kenyatta can expect to be a major recipient of Chinese infrastructure investments as part of the maritime route of the Belt Road project. China has already built a high speed rail connection between Nairobi and Mombasa.
Sub-Saharan African foreign debt has fallen from US240 TO 200 billion largely due to new Chinese lending ,this includes China Railways in Nigeria (US7,5 billion), and Libya US 4,2 billion, Chinese petroleum in Angola US 3,4 billion ,Nigeria US1,4 Billion, and the Chinese metal investors in DRC and Ghana US 3billion each.
However despite the glossy outlook for Africa in figurative capital prospects, experts have warned of a need to rationalize the extractive and expropriative relationship by developing strategies to neutralize the excessive dependency to emerging economies including India and Brazil, lately was the proposal to merge regional trade groups which include SADC, COMESA and the East African community, these blocks consists of 26 countries with over US 1 Trillion in GDP.
China has been also accused of engaging with perpetrators of Human Rights abuse, which mainly come from political establishments in Africa. Most of the Chinese firms operational in Africa have also been accused of disregarding environmental regulations, leaving hazard in their wake.
Most Chinese merchandise found mainly in African markets are widely popular for their indurability and affordability, causing doubts about the sincerity of her motives.
Finally, China’s existence is convenient to solving the world’s most pressing challenges. Chinese investments, innovation, commitment to tackle climate change and eradicating extreme poverty and fight diseases paired with it’s undoubted unique technical expertise and rapid development position is an indispensable resource to developing countries.