Monday, 10 January 2011

Comments: Why China is bad for Africa

Comments and views

In response to the blog I wrote about why I think China is once again bad for Africa, I have received two lengthy comments that address matters of rate of investment and how African governance should be more protective of its interests and those of Africa in general.

I have decided those comments should not languish in the almost invisible sections of my blog and herewith publish them verbatim thanking the contributors for taking the discussion forward by making time to air their views on my blog.

The alarming rise in investment is unsettling

From JustRecently, I got this comment

Hi Akin,

I don't think that the West needs to return to Africa - it's never left. For some proportions, India's investment in Africa is about half as big as China's, and early last year, India planned to invest 1.5 trillion USD by 2019.

Then there's the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade program between the US and 34 sub-Saharan countries. Not to mention France and its trade and investment in north-western Africa, and beyond.

In 2008, of all Chinese foreign direct investment, 78 per cent went to other Asian countries, 10 per cent to Africa, and 7 per cent to Latin America, according to these statistics. That was quite a dramatic rise, given that the total amount of investment had more than doubled with 2007, when the share of that investment in Africa was only 6 per cent.

But I think what strikes China's competitors most is the dramatically rising trend of its investment, rather than the actual amounts.

Nevertheless, I'd certainly agree that China has a very negative influence on African governance.

That just worse in that good governance is essential to make - or rather keep - Africa attractive for investment from OECD countries.

Africans need to serve their own interests

From CodLiverOil, I got this.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and no doubt this is yours.

But Africans have to grow up and make up their own minds.

Before the advent of China onto the continent when the West was attempting to guide/ influence how African countries should be run. The African elite were always quick to turn round and say they don't need to be patronised by the former colonialists.

China has now entered the scene, some African rulers want to use the fig-leaf of Chinese development will come to their shores provided that they remain in power until death forcibly removes them from the scene.

China is charting its own destiny; they have not aped the Western or Eastern models of governance but have formulated something of their own. So far so good, but that is something unique to China given its particular social and cultural history.

Africans have to wake up and grow up and realise they are neither the West or China or even Arabia, or anything in between. They have to formulate their own policy and chart that path to growth and stability.

The way African leadership and their associated elites are behaving it's no wonder why we are not taken seriously on the world stage in any quarter.

As for signing deals with foreign companies, it goes without saying that they should not sign deals that are detrimental to the national interest, merely because they personally benefit from it.

If we can't respect ourselves and our land, don't expect foreigners to. Do you think China will tolerate this behaviour by foreign nationals on their soil? I think not.

We should not be fooled that the West is entirely benevolent. We should remember history and act wisely. Our leaders should not be such cheap and worthless "sell outs".

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