China: Africa’s Savior or Foe?


China cannot live without Africa. Africa cannot live without China. Could it be that one day China will save the world and put Africa on top? No one really knows. What we know at the present moment is that China loves to do business with Africa and this has led to increasing write-ups on how China is constantly growing her presence in Africa.

In a latest report, QZ online portal reveals how Chinese companies, entrepreneurs, and central and local government are investing heavily in African countries. In Kenya, the Chinese have funded and built the country’s largest infrastructure project in more than 50 years, a standard gauge railway from Nairobi to the port city of Mombasa. At the grocery chain, Nakumatt, before it went under, an aisle was reserved for Chinese food supplies to serve the Chinese community in Nairobi.

Across the continent, Chinese electronics, clothes, and other products have flooded local markets. Chinese-made Dutch Wax Prints now sell better than the originals, decimating local industries in places like Lubumbashi, Congo. Increasingly Chinese-run factories take hold in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, and supposedly soon in Central Africa where the region’s first auto factory will be in Cameroon.

Nigeria: Yuan as Reserve Currency for Naira?

For this reason, some African countries, especially Nigeria would love to ditch the dollar for the Yuan. There is the fear that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may at one point or another not get its dollar management right, though all of a sudden these days they seem to be getting it right, but the pressure and anxiety often associated with sourcing the U.S currency seem also to be waning considerably.

In Nigeria, according to an article published by The Nation newspaper earlier this week, ‘the monetary authorities are concluding plans to adopt the Chinese Yuan as reserve currency for trades with China. This of course has the immediate effect of reducing the pressure on the U.S dollar as Nigeria’s most significant currency of international trade.’

The report further reveals that ‘While the Yuan deal is being fine-tuned for commencement, the CBN has come up with another seeming ingenious process of managing Nigeria’s age-old dollar dilemma.’

It is true that recently, Nigeria and China signed a bilateral agreement to operate a three-year currency-swap deal. The development, according to commentators and financial experts is aimed at facilitating enhanced trade between both countries, given the fact that China is Nigeria’s biggest trading partner.

It has taken  over two years of negotiations for talks to reach this stage and the deal is aimed at providing adequate local currency liquidity for Nigerian and Chinese industrialists and other businesses to reduce their difficulties in the search for a third currency. To this effect, China has also accepted to swap its currency with Nigeria’s Naira, an expression of confidence in the Nigerian economy, which is a good signal that Nigeria is back in business after climbing out of the recession rut.

With the deal, Nigeria is said to become the fourth country in Africa (after Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe) to sign on to Yuan for its trading and financial market transactions.

Beyond Business

Chinese conglomerates are making the most of Africa’s cheap labor, natural resources, and need for infrastructure. However, there are questions to be answered: How much will countries such as Nigeria benefit? What political influence is China getting from its investments? And what is the repercussion of the culture clashes that arise between locals and Chinese already living and working in African countries both large and small?

Chinese voyagers are the world’s best tourism spenders, spending nearly $260 billion of every 2017 alone. Best piece of that spend is presently occurring in Africa, supported by loose visa rules, increasing interest in the continent’ social and historical destinations, and activities that look to interest Chinese vacationers.

Some portion of the enthusiasm for these countries came following the presentation of loose visa rules for Chinese natives. For example, after the facilitating of visa necessities in Tunisia and Morocco, there has been a 240% and 378% year-over-year development in Chinese arrivals individually, as indicated by the travel knowledge organization known as ForwardKeys.

The boost in movement to Africa is another case of how China is rethinking or redefining Africa’s financial scene. The continent’s commitment with Beijing is fundamentally as a business partner with Chinese organizations getting lucrative contracts and experience abroad while have countries get required foundation, occupations, and in the end innovation and abilities. However progressively, China is boosting its political and military presence in the mainland, and is impacting youthful Africans through instruction and training. This is encouraging even as the Trump administration has embraced neutralist approaches that are stopping Chinese visitors from traveling to the US.

African governments, organizations, and tourist offices are anxious to take advantage of this segment and present restricted tourism items. What’s more, without a doubt, tourism is an effective vehicle for financial development: As of 2014, tourism added to 8.5% of Africa’s GDP, as per the United Nations exchange arm, creating 7.1% of all occupations, according to statistics obtained online.

China – a Savior?

A few Chinese media outlets are already giving the impression that China is Africa’s savior. According to QZ, Africa is sometimes depicted as a young and beautiful woman who needs to be saved by a male hero. In the end, the woman usually marries her rescuer. The narrative is also always gendered – China is portrayed as the (modern) male hero and Africa the princess in jeopardy.

On the other side things are not going well for Africans as reports have it. “As Chinese state-owned conglomerates enter the continent, Africans in China face incessant police raids, harassment, and racist attitudes. Even if they once saw China’s rise as a model to emulate, and came to trade, learn, and grow, a flight back home now seems like the only option,” says The DailyBeast.

Early this year, the French daily Le Monde reported that the Chinese government’s gift of a headquarters building and computer network for the African Union in Addis Ababa contained a back door to facilitate the transfer of data to servers in Shanghai. In response, China’s ambassador to the AU, Kuang Weilin said the allegations that China is spying on the AU is absolutely “absurd” and “preposterous.”

So it goes that despite the fact that China is doing admirably in different nations, it doesn’t make a difference what numbers of Friendship Bridges are fabricated, or what numbers of Cooperation Summits are sorted out. For whatever length of time that dispositions toward different races—and countries—don’t change inside China, the connections that are developed abroad will be exploitative, with just avaricious headway of one as a result.

Jude Chukwuemeka

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