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China's Relations With Africa Continue to Evolve

Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer

China’s economic ties to Africa have evolved in the past decade, and continue to grow.

In early February, a newly-built 750-kilometre railway line connecting Djibouti, on the Red Sea, to Addis Ababa, capital of landlocked Ethiopia, began operations.

China designed the system, supplied the trains and imported hundreds of engineers for the six years it took to plan and build it. Chinese banks provided nearly all the financing, which came to $ 4 billion. Djiboutian and Ethiopian laborers were hired to lay tracks and dig tunnels.

The system will be operated by Chinese conductors for five years and then turned over to local citizens, many of them trained in China.

“It is indeed a historic moment, a pride for our nations and peoples,” remarked Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia. “This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries.” Ethiopia depends on Djibouti’s ports for 90 per cent of its foreign trade.

China is also investing another $14 billion into projects in Djibouti, including three ports, two airports, coal-fired power plants, and a pipeline that will bring water from Ethiopia.

Chinese has also provided loans to Djibouti’s heavily indebted government, amounting to 60 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

They came with strings attached: China is constructing its first overseas naval base here -- just a few kilometres from one of the largest and most important American installations.

Nor are Chinese firms confining their activities to a few states on the Horn of Africa.

They are constructing new ports, highways and airports across the continent, including a rail link between the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and the port city of Mombasa that will open later this year; and an urban transit system for the Nigerian city of Lagos.

The spectacular scale and speed of China’s domestic renewable energy capacity development and technology has also been followed by the growing involvement of China in the development and transfer of renewable energy technologies on the continent.

In South Africa, for example, Chinese firms have become increasingly significant in the diffusion of renewable energy technology.

The growing relationship leads to opportunities for China and Africa to collaborate on the achievement of the latter’s Agenda 2063 and African Mining Vision.

In 2013, Africa’s political leaders rededicated themselves to the Pan-African vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

The Agenda 2063 document that emerged included an extensive outline of African development experiences, analysis of challenges and opportunities, as well as a review of national plans, regional and continental frameworks and technical studies.

China is prominent in these plans. Beijing has been providing development assistance in different sectors of the African economy, most notably in infrastructure, telecommunication, energy generation and supply, manufacturing, and industry, as well as the agriculture sectors.

China has allocated $7.5 billion of development assistance to 51 African countries through more than 2,500 development projects.

The sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in December 2015, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, noted that China’s overall investment in Africa increased to $ 32.35 billion in 2015 with over 3,000 Chinese companies operating across the continent.

And China pledged to donate $60 billion to a development fund for African countries.

When the African Union adopted the Africa Mining Vision in 2009, it looked to create a transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.

Chinese investment into this key sector provides expanded opportunities for accelerated economic diversification throughout Africa.

China’s formal commitment to collaboration in mineral resource development has been reiterated in various forums, including FOCAC, emphasising the importance of giving high priority to helping African countries turn their advantages in energy and resources into development strengths.

“African leaders should capitalize on their partnership with China, leveraging their partner’s anticipated growing interest in the continent’s mineral resources to further their strategic development objectives,” indicated  South African Professor Cristelle Maurin of Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Chinese Studies.

The African Mining Vision has offered a framework for China to translate official pledges into concrete action.  It is now up to African leaders to identify the fundamental development problems and challenges to make the most of this opportunity.

This post first appeared on I Told You So, please read the originial post: here

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China's Relations With Africa Continue to Evolve


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