Sunday, November 05, 2006

China in Africa

If you want to see how important Africa is in China's development plans, look no further than the online version of the government's official newspaper, China News (no bad news allowed). Currently on the homepage, amongst bizarre stories about the ban on leg-lengthening surgery in China, there are many articles on the China-Africa relationship.

This is because today is the first day of the "Bejing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation" - and so the state's propaganda machine is turned towards all things African. 48 African countries are in attendance - desperate to get a handle on Chinese cash and expertise. The site had a list of China-approved countries for African tourism a few days ago - needless to say it didn't include Nigeria - but it seems to have disappeared now. I recall Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. Quite why Chinese loans are preferable to World Bank loans is an interesting question - the interest rates are higher on the former. Of course, the answer lies in trade opportunities, which are vast in the case of China, and paltry in the case of the Bank.

A summary of the Chinese government's Africa policy is here.


tobs 6:28 pm  

I can't help but think that this is just a repetition of what Europe/USA/Western world did some years back and that it will not benefit Africa in the long run. Africans (in my oppinion) don't think too long ahead but clearly they must see the same dangers they have experienced with bad depth with European countries?!?

Anonymous,  8:12 pm  

The Chinese loans come with fewer conditionalities than the World Bank loans. I wonder the extent to which the Chinese ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the loan money, which the World Bank does.

Also, there seems to be a sense in which non-Western nations are sticking up their finger to traditional sources of lending like the World Bank. As in - we don't need you anymore, so there!

Like Tobs, I am concerned about the implications of this for the future. Will our children be forced to pay out obscene proportions of GDP to pay back these loans?

However, I would like to say to Tobs - rather than say 'Africans' it is always helpful to think more specifically of those who seek to benefit from these massive new loans.

I think the media in Naija should start asking some difficult questions. Don't tell us that Ngozi and co. got this debt relief, only to end up in the same position in 10 years time.

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