China in Africa

June 6, 2009 § Leave a comment


For a time in the beginning there was much excitement that China provided an option from the ‘West’ for Africa in terms of trade and investment. Afterall, China investments were not heavy with conditions – they want what they get and you get your end of the deal. And, this was exciting for a little while. My fear is that Africa is not making enough demands on China. Especially considering the original excitement was based on the idea that Africa no longer has to kowtow to all west’s demand since they can always revert to the Chinese option. We all understood this. Most people that even pay attention to the news understand all this.

Somehow as time passes Africa is letting China make deals that only benefit her (China) while on the African end only a few statesmen and businessmen, at best, are benefitting case in point Sudan, DRC, probably Somali and Chad. No real job creations (in many cases they bring their own labor). No enforcements of certain standards be it mining, road building, or drilling. Quite honestly, if Africa does not buckle up I don’t think it will benefit from a post-West pro-Chinese relationship deal any more than what it has and whines about now. It could even be potentially worse given that China makes no pretenses about her intentions. Africa does not need to play a victim in this situation – it’s not upto China, it’s upto Africa to make demands and conditions that are workable. This was supposed to be part of the reason we were excited to have the option of China. There is a song by a Congolese singer Shiko Mawatu (in his album Kimbanda Nzila) that I really like called ‘Afrique’. The song talks to Africa as if it were a woman telling her to wake up its mid-day and she’s still asleep and her children are hungry and … you get the idea. It’s a very African metaphor (although its the men running Africa – maybe that’s what needs to change). Sigh, just thinking out loud, randomly. I don’t know…


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