CHINA & AFRICA

The dragon is a popular symbol for the Chinese nation.

During the last decade of the 20th century 1990-2000, three major disasters plagued the whole continent of Africa: civil wars, new deadly diseases and economic debt traps. The civil wars were threefold, tribal and politically driven by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Every type of military weapons was now in the hands of all rebel groups. Imported foreign ideologies in the guise of socialism verse capitalism, displayed the negatives of psychological and intellectual dependencies. 

The total landmass of the continent was retrieved during the last decade of the 20th century, but what is below the earth is owned by foreign financial conglomerates. Over one hundred and ten companies registered on the London stock market, owned the rights of over three trillion dollars of natural resources in Africa. Over 60% percent of world’s best arable land, most suitable for farming is on the African continent.

Billions of dollars entered African countries through long standing political regimes, into what appeared to be a bottomless black hole. Government loans could not be repaid. The penalties were severe. The models of the World Bank, IMF and the United Nations development policies, rules and stipulations, were in fact working against the direct needs of the African populations.

Ebola, malaria and many other deadly diseases like the HIV-aids pandemic, devastated the social fabric, structures and foundations of all communities in Africa. Millions in the adult populations were wiped out, leaving grandparents to care for children and the sick. Scare rainfall, invasion and infestation of locusts all crops fail, the great fear of famine becomes real. The popular global media portrayed Africans, as poverty stricken helpless people.

Chinese ghost stories as folklore is a popular enjoyable pastime.

CHINA TRADE

During the year 2000, a forum titled ‘FOCAC’ was organised by the Chinese Government in Beijing, China. Over forty heads of state and governments officials from Africa were in attendance. The purpose of the forum were discussions about Africa and China cooperation.

China, becoming the manufacturing factory for the world, grew rich and powerful rapidly. To continue its modernising development plans for the domestic needs of the country large populations, the Chinese government encourage companies to go abroad, seek new markets and material resources for its factories. Africa was an ideal partner to gain access at source, instead of going to the open market. The Belt and Road initiative is the Chinese built Super-Highway for global transportation. Problems are, who owns it and will reap the benefits and rewards?

Not so long ago, China and Africa were in similar positions; categorised as third world countries. Now, African countries trading with China can develop in their own way, without restrictions and foreign involvement in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. China view Africa as a trading partner, and not a zone for Aid.  

China is now Africa biggest trading partner, all fifty-four countries on the continent are working with Chinese companies for major infrastructure projects. Including areas of technology transfer, renewable energy, telecommunications, construction, roads, railways, stadium, universities and schools, hospitals, medical etc. It is not clear if the African Union is acting as a single entity overseeing the overall African continent relationship with china.

ZEMNAGEDA ANDINET

“Divided we all fall, collective strength comes from a place of unity.”

With a population over one billion and growing fast, Africa share of the total global trade is 2.93% percent. Between 2000-2019, Chinese banks have offered 1,141 – one thousand one hundred and forty-one loans valued at 153 – one hundred and fifty-three billion dollars to African Governments. Over 80% percent of Chinese debts are with these countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Nigeria.

The Chinese trading model can be a win-win agreement, but there are still large numbers of great dangers. The deep embedded cultures of corruption in African governance. The need for greater technical knowledge, equipment, expertise and personnel to complete the ambitious projects. The lack of detailed maintenance plans for built infrastructures is of great concern. What are the sustainable gains for Africa, short and long term. Can these gains translate into lifting ten times millions of people out of abject poverty and the darkness of illiteracy-the inability to read and write? Only with the highest moral integrity, can these mammoth tasks be achieved. Barbaric brute force politics in Africa, eliminate all oppositions in the contest.

African political instability, ethnic divisions and rivalry can easily derail fragile, extremely vital important infrastructures and development projects. The impact of no-go area China towns in Africa, the influx and sale of cheap China made products restricting growth in domestic markets are growing problems. Chinese exportation of illegal goods, like Rhino horns and elephant tusks are still there, regardless of government measures.

The biggest danger of all is servicing loans, in foreign currency on time, all the time without excuse or default. Even with its most polite diplomacy, remember, whether soft or heavy, politics is all about gripping the balance of power. If projects do fail in Africa, for whatever reason, Chinese companies will look towards the most beneficial opportunities to secure their investments. The Modern Griot.