Africa a beneficiary of Chinese cooperation

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SHIFAN WU

China’s engagement with Africa is the most momentous phenomena in the continent over the last decade. The two-way economic relations have improved exponentially. This has not only been attributed to China’s remarkable development but also Africa’s fast economic growth.

Many Africans view China’s engagement in Africa as a golden opportunity to finally rise up and be counted among great nations and shed the unflattering tag of the continent. African leaders, scholars and businessmen recognize that China’s engagement has a developmental impact to the continent.

China and Africa need each other to realize common development, to maintain peace and stability, and speak for developing countries in the international arena. Since China entered in Africa’s development agenda to establish a new type of strategic cooperation with Africa, there is enough proof that this relationship is mutually beneficial.

In the political arena, China has proven to be a reliable political ally to Africa. Since regaining its legitimate seat at the UN, It has stood with African countries by safeguarding their interests at the Security Council. China has consistently called for larger representation of developing countries within the United Nations Security council, specifically African Nations, in line with the UN reforms. This has tipped the balance of international forces in favour of equality and respect among nations.

Economically, China has contributed significantly to the economic growth of African nations. A decade of engagement has helped Africa to develop and grow African economies by 20 percent. Trade between China and Africa soared from $10 billion in 2000 to $200 billion in 2012. James Oruko, a lecturer of Development Studies at Egerton University, attributed Africa’s fast economic growth in recent years to Chinese demand for commodities from Africa.

China’s accumulative investment in Africa reached $20 billion by the end of 2012. In his first foreign trip as President, Xi Jinping came visiting Africa and reconfirmed China’s commitment to provide $20 billion in financing. Most of these funds go to infrastructure projects and people’s livelihoods, which are the firm foundations for Africa’s industrialization and economic development.

Kenyan former Finance Minister Robinson Githae said infrastructure cooperation has not only helped bring Africa’s goods to China, but also transferred China’s technology to Africa and created more jobs for African people. “China continues to do its best to increase assistance to Africa, optimize the structure of assistance, and focus on assistance projects in education, agriculture, health, poverty reduction and other projects concerning people’s lives as well as energy conservation and environmental protection.”

The number of technicians, volunteers, agricultural experts who have come to support African workers has reached 350,000 in total from 1960’s to 2012. And 18,700 medical doctors have voluntarily served in 48 African countries.

Furthermore, China is already increasing its investments in the manufacturing sector in Africa with an aim of promoting industrialization and production in Africa by Africans. Several industrial zones are already underway and many others planned in various African countries. These not only offer jobs, but also facilitate technology transfer and value addition of locally produced raw materials.

Out of the 2,000 Chinese companies in Africa, 85 percent of their workforce is comprised of local employees and with continuous training in highly technical areas, the numbers keep rising. By the end of 2012, it is estimated that China had facilitated the training of over 40,000 African professionals in various sectors.

Dambisa Moyo, an International economist, explains that “With approximately 60 percent of Africa’s population under age 24, foreign investment and job creation are the only forces that can reduce poverty and stave off the sort of political upheaval that has swept the Arab world.”

China plays a crucial role in Africa’s development. It offers great opportunities for African governments to pursue development and economic growth for the betterment of their people. Despite its imperfections, its role in Africa is broadly welcomed across the continent as it prioritizes the provision of basic elements of development to African people.

(Wu is the Spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya)

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  • BOB

    You are just poachers of our wildlife and just fooding our maRKET WITH DIRT…… no mutual benefit for all countries involved.

  • gedimuhando

    China is helping Africa.But the quality of goods and services from your country is poor.Could it be dumping?

    • Yes it is. Those same products would never pass to be sold in europe or elsewhere. Instead they are dumped in our nations lap because we have leaders who do not have the courage to say no. They would never personally use or buy those very same imports they allow the wananchi to purchase. Ask them or better still observe where they shop ?

      • gedimuhando

        Agreed.Our leaders hardly buy anything from China.

        • They buy the same products made in China but bought at 20 times their price in downtown central london or paris. They just dont understand how they are being conned anyway 😀

      • You people make me laugh. Can you afford Europe quality products?? Much of the growth in the use of ICT and Tech in Africa has been due to Chinese innovation. Even Europe now manufactures in China..

  • Mazzdark

    Flooding our markets with poor products and extinction of our elephants and rhinos is beneficial to us….i think not!

  • We love you China! Keep on moving with us! Don’t attend to critics below; they know who their masters are. They’d rather be carrying bowls of begging forever than appreciate the big projects you are helping us put up and therefore create a smooth space to take off.

  • Mere propaganda. There is always a dark side to development generated via donor parties. He speaks so much about democracy when it doesnt even exist in the same manner as in africa. Africa will find its own solutions. Rest assured. The Chinese are more worried about their economy coming to a halt if they do not get any raw materials to fuel it from african nations. Dont be fooled by this issue about being helped. When we start manufacturing our own goods and stop importing cheap and many times sub-standard products some not worthy of being sold elsewhere but simply dumped on unsuspecting african nations is when you will see Africa rise. Without african natural and mineral resources the chinese economy will go downhill and civil unrest will rise. They know this they just dont want you to know it.They dont think you are intelligent enough that you have to be fed half-truths via media articles. Bure kabisa. Tell the world the truth China. Also dont forget the expansionist move into Tibet and the islands crisis. Where is the largest destination for smuggled african trafficked wildlife ? How many Kenyans are employed in the Chinese development projects ? Also tell the Kenyan people the special arrangements made when these contracts and loans are made. Requiring that the Chinese import thousands of people who otherwise would be left in China unemployed even for manual labor jobs. While Kenyan youth and qualified engineers sit by the roadside watching. Is that development and progress ? For who ?

    • Duncan Muchina

      I beg to defer. Lemme take you back to 1895. Europe partitioned Africa as they liked. They then set about building railway networks. Later they began plundering Africa mercilessly. Not just mineral resources, but human as well. They gave nothing back to Africa except for themselves. I mean, if they thought it would be of benefit to build a road, they did that. Or a city. Or whatever. Fast forward to 2000. The Chinese invade Africa at the invitation of the Africans. Let’s take an example with DRC. Mobutu built zero roads in 32 years. The Chinese show up and offer a deal that will cost $9 billion to upgrade roads in the Eastern region in exchange for 68% ownership in copper until they get their investments back. Now, that takes some math.
      DRC needs to know the quantity of copper being hauled out of their mines. They need to be smart. The bottom line is that unlike Europe who just plundered, the Chinese have a contract with an expiry timeline. So dismissing Wu without offering facts speaks of ignorance. There are other facets of the deal that are unspoken like importing cheap clothing and gadgets but, again, that depends on us Africans. How smart are we to protect our markets for our own folks? Is it feasible when we can’t produce a single cell phone? Or we do not have the buying power but want the latest “i-phone?.”

      • Mazzdark

        Of course you would differ

        • Duncan Muchina

          Get lost!

      • My grandfather was one of those who worked on building the railways still in existance. The colonial powers did this for their convienance. The same thing the chinese are doing minus the colonialisation. We are colonised now economically via loans for these roads that will be paid by your and my grandchildren and in worse case even beyond that era. If you understand how China functions you will understand that if the Chinese economy drops or stops for any reason they will have a serious security and civil unrest knocking on their doors. They must keep the ovens burning and this is done with raw materials and minerals from Africa. If Africa said no to them they would get desperate. Instead they silently draw us into their long term economic plans without our african leaders understanding this. China is doing the same thing in the Amazon region.

        DRC is a corrupt nation. And where corruption and impunity flourish there is no progress for the local communities or populations. This applies many times to Kenya as well. The contracts are always to the best benefit for the Chinese if you have never understood this? That is more than ignorance. Do you understand the demands they put on governments that get these loans ? Also do you understand why their companies are the main contractors and also alot of their laborers are offered jobs that Kenyans are equally qualified for ? Do you speak on behalf of Wu or are you his spokesperson ? The facts as i have stated are obvious and it needs a person with the courage to take their head out of the sand to see these. Do you believe a road is self-maintaining when built ? It costs to have infrastructure and even more so to maintain it well. Otherwise just expect the same nice superhighways to detriorate in a few years time. Then we go around begging for maintenance money from the WB and IMF or other donors.

        Alot of the products you find imported into Africa are many times rejects of products that would not be sold elsewhere but need a market. Market protection has alot to do with labor encouragement and employment of your fellow brothers and sisters who sit by the roadsides watching as others build their nation. When they too could be part of the equation but are purposely excluded in the name of development dictated by a foreign state. We have a nation of over 40 million and our priorities should be for these people first. We cannot produce a single cellphone (and this is an industry i have extensive experience in) because we have bad leadership and worse poor governance and this has been so for 50 yrs. The business climate is not conducive for obvious reasons. We rely on loans, grants and other donor aid to keep our nation breathing. The biggest asset Kenya has is its population and citizens. We want what we cannot afford. We live beyond our means and have been doing this for a very long time. You need to do more than check history. You should apply it where necessary too. Kenya can do alot if it wanted to. Where did the Chinese start ?

        • Duncan Muchina

          Now you are offering facts which is good. Very good. I quite appreciate that. Your objectivity also points in the right direction. I said points because what you are saying if I got you right, is that Africa needs to find itself. She is still in the dark and the case of DRC paints a very gloomy picture indeed. A country endowed with so much yet is the laughing stock of the world! The Chinese are like smart boxers. They seize an opening to knock you out. Africa presents them with so many openings they can’t seize them faster enough.

          How do we, as Africans, stop that or occupy a better bargaining position at the table? We have manpower for real but why can’t we design and build our own roads? We borrow the money from the West, give it to the Chinese to build the roads, and are left crying that the Chinese are violating our continent. I do not see a very immediate solution to that. A simple CDF project of upgrading the many kijiji roads littered all over the country ends up being done halfway and in a shoddy manner after the proper budgeted amount had been paid out. The pace of doing it plus the equipment used defy description. Some wheelbarrows are in deplorable state…men!

          We have a very long way to go. The Chinese are professionals with very strong work ethics while we are laid back and yap too much while working. The CDF rural roads are examples of our commitment to duty and mandate. Despicable. No wonder those guys bring even their own to push wheelbarrows. I do not speak for Wu and would gladly like to see Africans rising up and taking back their continent but it’s gonna take time and by then we will owe too much to the West and the East combined.

          What do you propose Sir?

          • Yes for more than 3000 yrs of having very noble and proud communities and civilisations. Somewhere along the line african leaders lost their way. It is a gloomy picture but i am glad you are realistic enough to realise that she is the loser in all these transactions with those who want to “help” her develop. Does a farmer wait for someone to come and hold his jembe when its planting season ? DRC is truly a sad nation and in terrible condition. Its leaders gave up ages ago and just do what is necessary to keep things going. For other nations. All the wealth and resources are right outside their doors. Due to poor leadership and bad governance combined with lots of corruption and many doses of impunity. One finds they have only themselves to blame for not developing in a global marker crying for their natural resources.

            African leaders talk about the great pan-african movement. Yet you do not see anyof them really doing much to see this a reality. You give a good example about the roads. Kenya has so many qualified engineers yet their talent and knowledge is wasted by the state that does not appreciate the biggest resource they have is their citizens. They are the ones who give their nations life and enrich it with the development ideas and movement that has been lacking for decades.

            Just today there is an article in the Standard about the Kenya Roads Board unable to maintain the national roads infractructure in a devolved form of govt. Yet there is money available for other things in the country but not that which generates income to lead the nation forwards. Instead funds are wasted on non-essential non income generating activities. Farmers then complain they cannot send their produce to the markets and it loses value when it eventually is sold as animal feed.

            We need first of all we need a strong govt and leaders willing to stand their ground when it comes to negotiating for either loans or contracts. The easy way out approach where the donors or lenders dictate all and every single paragraph and fullstep as to end. We cannot be selling our nation cheap for the sake of receiving some money that we will have to pay back in the long run. That is just part of it. Would you not want to see a change in govt policy on many fronts and the attitude they have towards national development ? Any good ideas to share with the public ?

  • At least the chinese are buying, and have not burnt any villages or sent any African chief to the gallows. Before you badmouth the Chinese, pause a moment to think of what the British did to this country, and what the Americans are currently doing in many places across the world in the name of “Keeping the peace”.

    • Reference what is happening in Ethiopia. If you want to see villages being burnt and whole communities being moved off their ancestoral communal land. Its all in the public domain. Nobody bothers to care because these people are indigenous and do not form part of the nations power elite. So much for development with a backward agenda.

      • eerr…I really dont see what your reply has to do with what I posted…Anyway,my point is, when faced with a choice between two demons, one should pick the lesser one which is obviously China. The example you give refers to problems we have always had amongst ourselves as countries and we should solve them as such. Displacing indigenous tribes represents what is wrong with our system; not foreign investors. They come, they ask to invest, its OUR responsibility to see to it that these projects serve and respect the interests of our people.

        • Think you really don’t want to “see” what is happening around you @abahengele. We don’t need any demons at all. Our biggest problem is poor leadership and bad governance of our national resources and also tax payers money. They often don’t come and beg us for investment opportunities. It is our own govts who go with the begging bowls in hand and have done so for more than 50 yrs. At the same time our tax money is token and misused while seeking expensive loans and grants. The math is clearly there to see. Its when it comes time to pay back that countries get into problems. Then china no longer stands smiling. The tone changes. Ask some South American nations that have been in this same boat before. The projects are dictated to African nations not the other way around. If you knew how the negotiations are carried out you would understand there is nothing that the African delegations can demand. Even labor and who is to work in these projects is dictated to them. Know why ? They benefit directly or indirectly from the projects and contracts negotiated. In China corruption is part of the culture. Bribing is not seen as such a big deal as in other regions. Its almost a must if hot do business in Asia to give “gifts” to your business partners.

  • Chinese investors build things you can see and touch: bridges, roads, stadiums, arports etc. American and British investors build dreams, they sell you air and powerpoint presentations. Africa is better off without a bed partner, but since we dont seem ready to go independent, I reckon the Chinese are the best choice in this regard.

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