Where it stands today, Africa is in the midst of an interesting period of renaissance. And among its partners of this new beacon called change is China!
It wasn’t so long ago when the Chinese and African trade hit news headlines and made telling statistical developments. In fact, in the 1990s, the overall trade between China and Africa grew by as much as 700 percent.
That was a lot for a huge landmass on the earth otherwise labeled as the ‘dark continent.’
But Africa has since then, moved on. And it could be said that the rising interest of the Asian countries in the region has somewhere made Africa evade dubious assumptions and ills and biases. Today, of all the countries that Africa is in a trading relationship with, China happens to be its largest trading partner.
In the past half a decade, the Chinese interest in Africa has only increased multifold so much so that the oriental nation has created several investment hubs in Africa. Nigeria, Lagos, South Africa, Congo, these are just some of the countries in the African continent where a burgeoning number of Chinese entrepreneurs are opening shop.
In particular, the services, logistics and manufacturing sectors in Africa are being dominated by the Chinese. And proceeds from these are expected to run into hundreds and thousands of dollars of sheer profit in the decades to come.
That the true motive of China’s rising trade relationship with Africa is sinister in economic terms is a somewhat arresting parallel narrative that doubts the true instinct of the growing relationship between the two regions.
While it’s firmly established that the Chinese interest in Africa isn’t about Maoism (about spreading the doctrine), doubts continuously linger whether China wants to have ownership of African resources?
But one thing is clear. Africa wants to reap a rich harvest of this growing period of economic rise so as to provide for its growing population. But whether that can be achieved solitarily minus Chinese intervention is open to debate, rather poses doubts. To that regard, fears run rife whether the byproduct of growing Chinese-African relations is in fact, Sino-imperialism?
But while no debate seems to provide conclusive evidence of China’s growing position of strength, what cannot be debated is that had it not been for the Chinese involvement in Africa, much of the continent’s new-age physical infrastructure and allied projects would’ve have taken shape.
Wherever the Chinese are going in Africa today, whether Nigeria or Congo- there’s this growing clout of railway, dams, ports, and telecommunication networks. In fact, to that end, the period considered most productive for the growth in this regard was from 2000 until 2014, where Chinese investment in Africa went from 2 percent of US levels to 55 percent*.
Some of the biggest and most influential Chinese firms dominating the African landscape happen to be Huawei, and the big state-affiliated establishments such as China Bridge and Road. What’s more eye-popping is that, at present, the overall worth of the African industrial output being singularly handled by Chinese businesses is around $500 billion**.
Whether it is shaping the water-resources, making all-weather roads or working to cut down the huge infrastructural deficit, Africa cannot be imagined today sans China, whether anyone likes it or not.
The expansive presence of the Chinese in Africa has also helped shape the inter-African rail connectivity. For instance, today if one were to hop onto a quick train and make a journey Ethiopian capital Adis Ababa to Northern Africa’s Djibouti, then it’s very much possible thanks to China making and financing the railway link.
But all that told, China’s growing involvement with Africa has its allegiance to a significant trade agreement that was inked around the turn of the new century, dating back to 2000. Since the signing of the Chinese-African co-operation, a triennial ministerial-level forum, the trading relationship between the two got a foundation that has since then grown exponentially.
Additionally, it was back in 2006 when a huge delegation from China, premiered by Hu Jintao met with as many as 48 African nations, which included 42 heads of states. Beijing at the backdrop of this mega summit took the first careful steps toward exploring what now seems a labyrinth in the Chinese African co-operation.
But whether constant Chinese involvement in Africa is actually about taking hold of the people, resources, and potential we still don’t know. Though, what can be said is that it is Africa which finds itself at the receiving end of the exceedingly bright partnership.
Thus far, the continent has received approximately $125 between 2000 and 2006 as a loan from China. And where seen recently, i.e., 2018 China-Africa Co-Operation summit, then the Xi Jinping-land has already pledged $60 billion to Africa.
–quoted from Financial Times