WikiLeaks reveals Africa liking for China

January 13, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – One of the Washington cables quoted by Wikileaks reveals that African countries prefer working with China alone as a donor, as opposed to a merger between China and other international donors.

According to Wikileaks, Kenya\’s Ambassador to China Julius ole Sunkuli and South African Minister Dave Malcolmson in February last year said African countries would not gain by China co-operating with the international donor community.

"He said he saw no concrete benefit for Africa in even minimal cooperation.  Sunkuli said Africans were frustrated by Western insistence on capacity building, which translated, in his eyes, into conferences and seminars," the Wikileaks cables indicate.

Mr Sunkuli said cooperation with western donors would bring interference and impose governance conditions as opposed to giving African countries options.

He was worried that Africa would lose the benefit of having some leverage to negotiate with their donors if their development partners joined forces.

He further said China\’s projects were more focused and tangible compared to the western donors\’.

Mr Malcolmson who fully echoed Mr Sunkuli\’s position said working with China separately encouraged competition among the international donor community which gave African countries more bargaining power and choice.

He said African countries were unhappy that the European Union in 2008 put a policy paper on trilateral development cooperation in Africa without consulting them, a move they described as an attempt to interfere or end China\’s assistance to the developing continent.

The Minister said as a result, China rejected the policy paper after it realised Africa had opposed it.

Mr Malcolmson claimed that governance projects received more support from Western donor countries than infrastructure projects and suggested that although governance, peace and security were crucial to African growth, they should be accompanied by measures to reduce poverty and build infrastructure.

He also feared that US-China cooperation would slow down development in Africa and suggested that Chinese support would go beyond bilateral development to support regional projects in African countries.

According to the information on the Wikileaks, Mr Sunkuli\’s and Mr Malcolmson\’s remarks were warning signs that China was likely to dwell on to refuse or slow any discussions on collaboration of international donors.

It was also an important point for the donors to consult Africa to ensure their projects gains support to ensure they achieve their goals.

"We should be careful to pick projects that would have broad support within the African community, preferably African-initiated and led, to get the development cooperation dialogue started on the right foot. In addition, we should clearly articulate the benefits of our cooperation to our African counterparts and include African voices in the debate on the US- China-Africa relationship," Wikileaks quotes the US cable.

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