Diplomatic and Economic ties between China and Africa can be traced back to the post economic era with Angola being the longest host for China. They started by recognizing the sovereignty of African States and by the mid-1990s, China began trade and development activities in Africa in the year 2000 after the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The World Bank reported in 2009 that China had overtaken the USA and was now Africa’s biggest trade collaborator; consuming almost 20% of Africa’s Sub-Saharan exports and supplying about 25% of imports. The Joseph Hopkins University China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) 2018 report from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) indicates that Africa owes China close to $210 billion.
China’s projects in Africa from 2018 to 2019
China has expanded her connections in Africa for the last two years through infrastructural projects, military interventions, socioeconomic activities, communication/mechanical technology and loans from Chinese Banks/Firms. China has a multi-purpose “going out” or “going global” plan for Africa which is part of President Xi Jinping’s plan; “One Belt, One Road”. China has opened mines, energy plants, telecommunication corporations and plantations. She financed or is financing the construction of roads, railways, sea ports, airports, schools, hospitals, hotels, leisure facilities, restaurants, shopping centers and stadia. As per the 2019 report, about 3000 Chinese projects done already and counting in African countries such as;
- The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway is the biggest infrastructural project undertaken in Kenya since the post-independence era. The $3.2 billion 490km railway project with 98 bridges linking the Kenyan coastal and the capital cities was launched in October 2016, completed in June 2017 and officially opened for commercial purposes in January 2018.
- The $3.4 billion 759 km Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway and the two-year old $475 million 31.6 km Addis Ababa Light-Rail System are two major projects financed by China. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway already functional since January 2018.
- The $569 million Kribi Seaport in Cameroon financed by Chinese investors which was commenced in March 2010 became operational in March 2018.
- Nigeria and China signed a deal in January 2018 for the construction of a $20.9 billion oil refinery in Edo State. China also began the financing of the 1,400 km Lagos-Calabar Railway on-going project with a budget of $11 billion in 2017 initially carried out by the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC). It was later awarded to the Ameri Metro Inc., an American company expected to be completed in 2019. The construction of the $5.8 billion Mambila Hydroelectric plant in Nigeria sponsored and carried out by the Chinese engineering company, Sino Hydro Corp is also on-going over the river Donga in Taraba State. An idea conceived almost 30 years back and initiated it in 2017.
- In 2018, Tanzania initiated the $11 billion China-co-financed Bagamóyo Port project, the largest in East Africa alongside the Sultanate of Oman that shall establish an economic zone adjacent to this on-going port project, a venture described as “The Tri-State Project”.
- In July 2018, the 1st phase of the $200 million China Building Materials Zambia Plant was announced by President Edgar Lungu. The on-going 2nd phase of the $300 million project is expected finish by mid-2019.
- There are a series of ongoing and realized building construction projects which China financed; the African Union (AU) newly built headquarter building in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) worth $200 million, the ECONOMIC Community of West African States (ECOWAS) building in Abuja (Nigeria) worth $30.1 million and the 33,000 m2 Parliament Building in Zimbabwe with the capacity of 250 persons worth $100 million.
There are several other minor projects which are on-going and some completed which were fully or partially sponsored or financed by China; roads, schools, hospitals, residents, stadia and leisure facilities. China has also failed to realize some projects such as The Modderfontein New City in South Africa, The Lagos-Calabar Railway and many more.
China is facing a serious “perception problem” from some Africans who believe that she should not be welcomed with open arms such as Godwin Emefiele, the governor of The Central Bank of Nigeria who said,
“We must see China for what she is: a competitor. Africa must recognize that like USA, Russia, Britain, Brazil and the rest, China is in Africa not for African interests but her own.”
Chinese employers are being accused for poor working conditions, low wages and unfair labour. Kenyan rail workers protested against Chinese employers over low wages insisting that their wages be improved from $2.5 to $5 per day. Zambian mine workers were shot dead by Chinese employers during protests against low wages and poor working conditions in the Collum Mine.
China has also been accused of causing environmental hazards due to improper disposal of wastes.
Apart from socioeconomic and diplomatic activities in Africa, China is now participating in military interventions such as the case of Sudan and recently, Naval Bases have been installed in East Africa. She has also provided employment to about 200,000 Africans back home.
Food for thought; who shall pay the exaggerated high loan figures already owed China by some African countries and counting.
Article from AFRIC editorial
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