The Implications of Africa-China Relations
The Chinese government over the past few years has been working towards strengthening its ties with Africa with an elaboration on it’s vision for development on the continent. In this pursuit, the aim of China is to access resources, foreign markets, and boost its own global influence.
To accomplish this, the Chinese government and its firms continue to form partnerships with leaders on the continent by offering loans for the construction of amenities such as railways, roads, ports and major building projects. During an Africa-China summit three years ago, the President Xi Jinping pledged US$60 billion to African Leaders towards the financing of projects across the continent.
China has not only supported the continent in the provision of basic amenities but in other sectors too. According to China Daily, in agriculture for instance, the country has “built 22 agricultural demonstration centers, provided about 10,000 experts to Africa to share their knowledge, organized dozens of training courses on various branches of agriculture and invited African agricultural technicians to study in China.”
In addition, towards the developing human resources on the continent, China has provided over 7,300 government scholarships to students and trained more than 10,000 people at various levels in African countries. Also, it organizes about 100 training courses annually to people in Africa and other developing regions based on its development principle of “teaching people to fish.”
According to the World Bank, an estimated US$93 billion is needed yearly to be able to finance Africa’s infrastructural needs for the next 10 years. This is about 15 percent of the region’s total GDP. Out of this amount about US$60 billion would go to funding new projects and the rest would go into the maintenance of existing ones. Given the substantial amount of money involved, governments will need to be innovative in the search for sustainable approaches to infrastructure development as well as financing.
On the other hand, a report by the International Monetary Funds (IMF) indicates that high levels of Chinese aid (which often come in the form of loans) have had a “harmful effect on human rights and on economic development across Africa.” Chinese labor and resources used in the execution of the country’s projects in Africa has generated unemployment and hindered the fulfillment of industrial development in the continent, according to the IMF.
African countries are yet to experience rapid development and economic transformation. One way in which this can be achieved is through a new and lucrative economic relationship with China that benefits both sides. Even though Europe and the Americas continue to be Africa's essential economic partners, China in particular is seen as an increasingly important trading partner. The two-way trade between the continent and China has increased dramatically to an all-time high of $166.3 billion, triple the figure for 2006. Both imports and exports have registered impressive growth rates. According to estimates, there are around 800 Chinese firms in Africa, investing in the infrastructure, energy and banking sectors.
China will continue to remain an instrumental trading partner for Africa over the next decades to come. Therefore, it is important that Africa aims at looking for means to reap the most benefit from this relationship, in order to spur economic growth and development, reduce poverty and reduce youth unemployment.
Thumbnail credit: AFP/File / Yasuyoshi CHIBA