China is in a position to become the next global super power. Its presence in the world through trade and commerce has solidified the nation as an economic force. China’s presence on the African continent over the past couple of years is one example of the country setting a precedent as it has been the brain child behind the building and rebuilding of infrastructure in the various countries on the continent that are in need of it. As China establishes itself in Africa and assures African leaders that it can depended on, China will eventually lead nations to possibly sever ties with the U.S and in turn lean towards China for any aid that they need.
The U.S has had a presence in Africa for many decades. The country has set itself up through developmental programmes such as those focused on health care and education. Through these programs the U.S has been able to build rapport with African nations. However, current U.S President Donald Trump has yet to take a trip to the continent. His decision of not travelling to Africa might show African leaders that there is decreased interest from Americans with regard to issues taking place on the continent. While Trump is choosing to ignore Africa the Chinese are there to fill that void and take up initiatives that America is not showing much interest in.
One must however question the cost of China’s presence. China is loaning money to African nations to aid in infrastructural development. The cost of Africa’s debt is in the billions and questions on how these countries will pay back the debt should be considered. Will African businesses be prosperous enough to pay back these loans, or are the nations just in over their heads and if so what would be required to assure the Chinese that they will pay back their debts. The Chinese do not hire much local labour when they are conducting projects in these countries because they bring in workers from their home country. The loans given to the African nations to build these infrastructures are also used to pay the workers. The Chinese are essentially paying African states only for them to pay China back. The money then is not circling back to the local economies but instead ends up back in China when the workers have finished their projects and returned home.
China sees the potential that the African continent has. Growing and thriving economies such as Nigeria, and South Africa are attractive to China, and the Chinese therefore want to establish ties with them now just in case American relations with African nations begin to sour. Whether China’s involvement in Africa is a good thing or not is really based on one’s own interpretation.
Yes the infrastructure being built is necessary as it will allow for more factories to operate out of Africa which will help African nations become producers rather than mere consumers. A survey conducted in some African countries where China is establishing itself found that 63% of Africans see China’s influence in a positive light. Yet on the other hand the debt is so great that whatever profit is made from the products being made will have to go back to paying off debt. The countries will therefore still be in the same deplorable state as they previously were only now they will become debt slaves to china and their economies will become more Chinese and less African.
It is only a prayer that a Chinese presence in Africa will not backfire and leave the continent in the same destitute conditions as of the past but that it will allow the continents states to become players on the world economic stage giving Africa a chance to rise out of destitution and into prosperity.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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