Though China continuously contends that it has no international friends, only interests, it seems Africa is quickly becoming more than a mere interest for China.
Since the first Chinese-African diplomatic contacts at the Bandung Conference in 1955, China has been showing interest and making major headway in development all around the continent. With the fastest growing and the second-largest current population as a continent, Africa deserves far more attention and respect from the global economic system. China has taken note of Africa’s ever-growing population, abundant natural resources and huge potential for growth and development.
China has come to the African continent in a peaceful manner and offered countries alternatives to the traditional power politics of Western aid in Africa.
“The Chinese bring what Africa needs: investment and money for governments and companies,” Rwandan president Paul Kagame said in an interview in October.
China offers real hope for African countries because it serves as a shining example of how hard work and rapid change can allow a third-world country to rise to the status of major world power. The West may seem to provide a lot of aid to Africa, but it is tied to many regulations and stipulations that end up taking back a large financial chunk. However, the Chinese give aid in a no-strings-attached form that helps the general population rather than elites.
China provides huge loans for developing infrastructure at nearly zero percent interest, builds the country’s much-needed infrastructure at a very cheap price that also gives jobs to Africans, allows the countries to repay the loans in natural resources and, most importantly, treats the African countries it works with as equals and shares mutual respect for them. It also provides cheap products, which gives Africans more purchasing power.
In Ghana, Chinese developers seem to be building new infrastructure all across the country. Road conditions in Accra are pretty subpar, with potholes often making roads nearly impassible, yet recently Chinese developers have come in, building or fixing the existing roads throughout the city.
Even remote rural areas, like Bui in the Brong Ahafo region on the border of Cote d’Ivoire, have been affected by Chinese development. In Bui, the Chinese are constructing a new dam that will help power Ghana and other places in West Africa.
Chinese development in Africa works to ensure its involvement in Africa is mutually beneficial. The Chinese competitively challenge Western bids for development projects and tied aid. Only time will tell whether China’s policies toward Africa will bring much-needed development or end up bringing more of the same empty promises and disappointment.