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|Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Wallie(m): 7:41pm On Jan 29, 2013|
By Peter Eigen, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Peter Eigen is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan. He is the founder and chair of the Advisory Council, Transparency International, and chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The views expressed are the author’s own.
China’s growing presence in Africa is one of the region’s biggest stories, but even seasoned analysts cannot decide whether this booming relationship is good or bad for Africa.
Critics say Chinese strategy is entirely self-promotional, aimed at maintaining access to Africa’s precious mineral resources even when that means propping up odious governments. China’s supporters say the Asian superpower is strictly neutral and business-oriented, preferring to generate economic growth not a dangerous dependency on aid.
China has certainly been contributing to Africa’s economic growth, both in terms of trade and with building infrastructure. All over the continent, it has built roads, railways, ports, airports, and more, filling a critical gap that western donors have been shy to provide and unblocking major bottlenecks to growth.
The rehabilitated 840-mile Benguela railway line, for example, now connects Angola’s Atlantic coast with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. And Chinese-financed roads have cut journey times from Ethiopia’s hinterland to the strategic port of Djibouti, facilitating livestock exports.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Africa and China continues to grow at an extraordinary pace, reaching $160 billion in 2011 from just $ 9 billion in 2000.
But some 90 percent of Sino-African trade is still based around natural resources – oil, ores, and minerals. And exports of natural resources by themselves do not help Africa to develop as we can see from the examples of Nigeria and Angola, Sub-Saharan Africa’s two largest oil exporters.
First, oil and mining are not labor intensive industries. So while natural resources may create impressive headline growth figures, they do not necessarily translate into widespread job creation.
Second, as we saw in the Netherlands in the 1960s and Norway today, large oil and mineral reserves can distort the local currency, pushing up prices of other exports, such as agricultural products, and making them much harder to sell overseas.
Third, without careful management, oil and mineral revenues have often fuelled corruption which has a severely negative impact on a country’s development. It’s notable, for example, that China is not yet one of the supporting countries for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an initiative to promote transparency and accountability in the governance of natural resources.
Away from the oil and mining industries, critics of China say they don’t see much evidence of China advocating for Africa on global issues either.
Climate change and better access to overseas markets are two such issues. But at the Africa Progress Panel we see little evidence of China pushing hard for improved market access for African products in non-African markets. Indeed, South African and other manufacturers have frequently complained about the crushing competition from Chinese textiles. Nor do we see China pushing for any meaningful breakthroughs in climate negotiations that would favor African nations.
More heavily publicized, Chinese use of its veto in the U.N. Security Council to inhibit international action on Darfur has made a mockery of China’s supposedly “neutral” stance.
So what else could Africa and China do so that Africa benefits more from its growing relationship with China?
For a start, African countries could diversify their economies as much as possible away from supplying unprocessed natural resources to China. This will make them less dependent on the vagaries of both the Chinese economy and the ups and downs of global commodity prices. Trade with China may have helped insulate Africa from the full impact of the 2008 financial crisis, but Africa still looks vulnerable to China’s economic slowdown. Meanwhile, African nations should also prepare for the day when they no longer have natural resources to sell. At the Africa Progress Panel, we talk about transforming natural resource wealth into human capital, by investing revenues into health and education.
Second, African countries need to encourage Chinese investment into more labor intensive sectors. Africa’s population is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, and job creation is a top priority. If Africa cannot create jobs to keep up with the growth of its workforce, then we can expect to see a large and growing population of frustrated, jobless youth.
As China’s relationship with Africa shifts from being essentially government-to-government to business-to-business, some analysts see enormous potential in the manufacturing industry, especially for clothing and textiles. Rising Chinese wages in this sector may lead Chinese manufacturers to export jobs to African countries where labor prices are lower.
One example of how this might work is Zambia, where some 300 Chinese companies now employ around 25,000 people. Ethiopia’s shoemaking sector has also benefitted from Chinese investment that has created jobs and exports.
For the most part, however, and despite the scale of investment, linkages between Chinese investment and local economies remains weak.
Third, African countries could negotiate better terms with Chinese investors, including quality control and better linkages with local economies. African governments could urge China to improve market access for African goods overseas, for example in trade fora such as the World Trade Organization. The IMF estimates the average import tariff faced by low-income countries in Africa in the BRICS at 13 percent – around three times the level in the United States and the European Union (which also operate a range of non-tariff barriers).
On quality, observers describe shoddy workmanship in a range of Chinese investments from crumbling walls in a Chinese-built hospital in Angola, enormous potholes in Ghanaian and Zambian roads, and a leaking roof in the African Union’s new $ 200 million headquarters opened in January.
Fairly or unfairly, many in Africa complain that Chinese projects do not employ enough Africans or do enough to transfer skills and technology. The reality is that this will vary from project to project. When a country is emerging from a decade or two of civil war, its labor force may not have sufficient capacity to work on technical projects. But at the Africa Progress Panel we view job creation as a priority issue for Africa’s development. Skills development has a major role to play in this respect.
And when Africans are employed, working conditions are sometimes substandard. Human Rights Watch reports dangerous work conditions in Zambian mines. And pay disputes at a copper mine also in Zambia led to two Chinese managers shooting at miners in 2010, then the death of a Chinese manager this August.
Fifth, Africa could keep working to make itself as attractive a business environment as possible. At the Africa Progress Panel, we consider further regional economic integration to be a priority. Africa’s population will one day represent the world’s largest consumer market. If they can get increased market access by investing in a single country, Chinese businesses will want to invest much more.
Analysts see more Chinese businesses coming to Africa, meaning that the Africa-China relationship is diversifying away from simply government-to-government relationships. This makes it harder to characterize the relationship as either good or bad. However we view it, China’s growing presence in Africa is part of a rapidly changing reality that presents enormous opportunity.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by AjanleKoko: 9:36pm On Jan 29, 2013|
Talking from personal experience, China is good for Africa. From the viewpoint of the common African on the street, that is the case overall.
The sooner Africans wise up to that fact, the better. They are flexible, won't be deterred by corruption and local misgovernance, and are not even looking to meddle in the local politics.
Not only China in fact. Africa needs to cultivate relations with the East. They are clearly the next power, have a growing appetite for consumption, and have the most important need for Africa: ability to produce goods and and provide services at relatively cheaper cost. For those people who don't deal in Western rhetoric, they had better open their eyes to the possibilities that abound.
Asia is taking over everywhere. Not only in Africa.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Wallie(m): 3:17pm On Jan 30, 2013|
AjanleKoko: Talking from personal experience, China is good for Africa. From the viewpoint of the common African on the street, that is the case overall.
But should we be seeking more out of the relationship especially in industries that can create more local employment? There's no doubt that their interests lie primarily in energy but mining will not create high employment like a manufacturing facility will. Can't we come up with a policy that says for every X tons mined or X dollars made, you have to employ Y number of Nigerians? In other words, we will give them what they yearn for but we will also get something more important to us - reducing youth unemployment.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Areaboy2(m): 3:26pm On Jan 30, 2013|
First, the Europeans
second, the Americans
Third, the Asians
Our turn go come. No fear
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nwaoguta(m): 3:27pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Useless set of people
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by hrmkz: 3:34pm On Jan 30, 2013|
poor man's resort.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by zangiff(m): 3:38pm On Jan 30, 2013|
all i can say is that, China makes it possible for stuffs to be cheap and available but most of those tins hurt on the long run
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 3:38pm On Jan 30, 2013|
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Hardeywerlay(m): 3:40pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Let's wait and see. Time will tell
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 3:40pm On Jan 30, 2013|
China has contributed a lot in Africa,in fact the whole telecommunication networks infrastructure in Nigeria have been due to cheap and affordable infrastructure by Chinese telecommunication companies in Nigeria,like Huwaeii,ZTE,CITCC...
That has in turn created jobs directly or indirectly for Nigeria,we have civil engineers building BTS SITES and civil works for Optic Fibers for service providers,we have retailers providing most telecom infrastructure,we have service providers employing staff,we have small scale business men etc...
people will say that the Chinese they provide cheap goods to the detriment of our unemployed,but as long as we have failed to get our industrial capacity up,we will have the unemployed however, untill then we need these goods
The west was dominant from the 60's to the 2000's in our market,with expensive goods that was to their benefit not to ours,now we can afford everything cheaply,brand new clothes not okrika,new tv's not second hand any more etc.
we benefit more from the Chinese,until we revamp our industrial sector that is...
its about time
we are tired of being the West's beggarly relative or its basket case.
we can only do this if we are considered as Equals not as inferiors..
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Scarpon(m): 3:42pm On Jan 30, 2013|
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by AdaNri1(f): 3:45pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Chinese people are very mean spirited and have no regard for human rights. Ask a Nigerian employee of a chinese company and you'll know if China is good for Africa or not
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Philolos: 3:45pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Wallie: By Peter Eigen, Special to CNN
China is good for African but not best – their standards are low, no belief system/values, and just as corrupts as our leaders, if not worse. China has been good for Africa because it has created some type of jealousy with the West. Hence, you now see the resurgence of Western Europe and US interests recently increasing in Africa. Don't think France, UK, and US intervention in Mali is a fluke or because they like us so much and they want to save lives. I don't think so. It is part of a grand strategy against Mr. China. Mother Africa is part of a grand geopolitical chess game - who controls the worlds minerals and resources.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Donmams(m): 3:45pm On Jan 30, 2013|
China's interests are simply economical. It's a country that cares for its people and is thus striving to get a strong market for its products. Wish our leaders had the same ideology
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 3:51pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Ada Nri1: Chinese people are very mean spirited and have no regard for human rights. Ask a Nigerian employee of a chinese company and you'll know if China is good for Africa or notTHE AVERAGE WORKER EARNS 30 DOLLARS IN CHINA
That is why their goods are so cheap,because their labour is cheap,Foxcomm the producers of the Apple IPAD has the highest rate of sucide every year because of their atrocious human right service...so their record for human right is known world over..
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by BedLam: 4:02pm On Jan 30, 2013|
The only thing I like about them is their humility. a brainless westerner will come into the country via seme border and calls himself an EXPATRIATE ..........while a chinese Phd holder will see himself as an ordinary surgeoner.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 4:17pm On Jan 30, 2013|
BedLam: The only thing I like about them is their humility. a brainless westerner will come into the country via seme border and calls himself an EXPATRIATE ..........while a chinese Phd holder will see himself as an ordinary surgeoner.very true..i worked with the Chinese a while back,
there was a doctor who would farm and worked as a gardner,our boss then very wealthy was always in slacks and he would come down and chat with the Chinese under him,
smoke with them and play volley ball,there was no class distinction with them,its a shock now as i am now working with Nigerians,you will see some bosses who don't share elevators,some who wont answer greetings and the constant fixation with the superficial..well adaptin
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by drzed: 4:20pm On Jan 30, 2013|
I will take solid development (roads, railways, housing, stadiums) any day over and above loans, foreign aid and handouts (USAID, DFID, IMF, Oxfam, Cowtail...whatever).
China wants Africa's resource in exchange for fast track development, with not too many questions asked. Others want our resources in exchange for high-interest loans and handouts - with all sorts of preconditions and caveats.
Now, since we Africans have not learnt to catch fish by ourselves yet, (i.e. self-development), then while both China and Western Countries are giving us fish, at least China allows us to see how the fish is being caught on our land (physical development).... Europeans and North Americans on the other hand, prefer to give us high-interest chicken-change to buy the hook, the line, and the fishing rod (which we have to assemble ourselves) and we still have to dig for the bait/worms ourselves. It doesnt help that out own fishermen (African leaders) are mostly corrupt or incompetent.
So if man must collect fish, let it be a Chinese fish. Imagine if the West was serious about African development for the past decades: they would have built roads, schools, power stations, railway lines, etc. But instead, their politicians will sit in Brussels and Washington and be 'blowing' grammmar - while their bankers are busy harbouring the loot stolen by our leaders.
Livescore update: PR China 4 - 0 Western Countries.
* First goal by Win Chung Lee (header from corner kick)
** Second goal by Roo Huan Chan (solo dribble from midfield)
*** Third goal by Ki Ling Yu (Penalty after Uncle Tom handled goal bound shot)
**** Fourth goal by Wang Jun Fao (Goal mouth scramble)
PS: We are into extra time, 2 minutes to end of match. George Cameron (Striker for Western Countries) just got sent off for simulation.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 4:22pm On Jan 30, 2013|
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by drzed: 4:28pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Hilarious, yeah. But comedy is just a funny way of looking at serious life issues.
I challenge the European Union and USA to end all foreign aid and loans TODAY and start building things in Africa instead.
They will not...
Q: Do you know why?
A: Because it is not in their economic interest for Africa to be developed.
And some people think colonialism is over simply because we have reggae-coloured flags all over Africa (SMH).
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by AjanleKoko: 4:31pm On Jan 30, 2013|
I wasn't even referring to government. We all know how that works down here.
Of course there are some regulations regarding expatriate quotas and ownership of businesses by foreigners in Nigeria, but Nigerians have been all too willing to help Chinese and other foreign nationals get around those regulations for a quick buck or two. Also, many of those regulations are outdated and need to be revised. I guess anytime we have serious individuals in government we can revisit that.
I am talking about the You and Me on the Street. The Chinese deals can deliver long-awaited infrastructure. We should even sell some of our interstate highways to CCECC, and let them collect their revenue back via tolls. That way at least we can guarantee that the roads get attention. Likewise the railways. Public utilities are the prime money-siphoning tool in Nigeria. At least we can move our goods and services cheaper and safer if that happens, and we will be less at the mercy of government.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Dygeasy(m): 4:31pm On Jan 30, 2013|
See as the topic con sound as if they wan carry China come Africa.. Eh!
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by rodeo0070(m): 4:31pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Ada Nri1: Chinese people are very mean spirited and have no regard for human rights. Ask a Nigerian employee of a chinese company and you'll know if China is good for Africa or notSeconded!
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by AjanleKoko: 4:34pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Black people have adopted the social nuances and strictures of the West. The black man is forever seeking validation and respect from white people
Classic Sambo and Mlambo paradigm. The Chinamen on the other hand, do not give a shyt, thanks to Chairman Mao. They will lie, cheat, and steal their way to recognition.
There is so much we can learn from the East. Primary one is how to kick and scratch your way out of the bottom of the pile, and force a seat at the table.
Africans leaders are hanging out in Davos right now, begging to be allowed a seat in the doghouse. The Chinese kicked and scratched their way to the head of the table, and are slowly pushing a lot of Old Powers out the door.
The most important lesson is to learn how not to be lazy, and how to realize that nobody owes you anything. Chinese are bloody work machines, while most black people are amazingly lazy.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 4:34pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Wallie: By Peter Eigen, Special to CNN
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by rodeo0070(m): 4:38pm On Jan 30, 2013|
If only the inadequacies of and in our system (Corruption and the likes) can be tackled, I can say China is good for Africa.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Pharoh: 4:39pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Does the Nordic people form part of the west we are talking about here because they are different a little bit.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by AjanleKoko: 4:43pm On Jan 30, 2013|
Pharoh: Does the Nordic people form part of the west we are talking about here because they are different a little bit.
They're all the West jare. Their ancestors invaded and colonized most of what we currently refer to as the 'West', Norsemen, Vikings, etc.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Nobody: 4:59pm On Jan 30, 2013|
If you are enjoying your Chinese "I better pass my neighbor" generator, say Yay!....
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by Pharoh: 5:04pm On Jan 30, 2013|
I get you but am just saying the mentality and approach to things has evolved a little bit different between them and say USA/Britain. I think we should just embrace the best of both worlds and try to learn or copy the relevant stuffs to develop ourselves.
I don't think any one of them is one hundred percent good or bad, so lets partner with them while we develop ourselves instead of depending on them all the time.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by jmoore(m): 5:23pm On Jan 30, 2013|
check the quantity of goods that come into this country, China is leading though I stand to be corrected.
China don't meddle with internal affairs of country unlike USA and UK that always want to influence the policy in another country.
|Re: Is China Good Or Bad For Africa? by AjanleKoko: 5:24pm On Jan 30, 2013|
It's not even a matter of who is good or bad. It's a matter of how do we get up off the floor and drag ourselves into the 21st century?
We have tried the Western model, and most of us got nothing out of it. Only the elite who were patronized by the West, and some other fortunate ones who have been able to escape Africa to live in the West, have benefitted. The bulk of Africans in Africa got less than nothing.
If not for Chinese, there would not be a state of the art road connecting Mile 12 to Agilinti. That community has been there for eons.
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