There's no doubt about it China has emerged as the newest economic force fast embroiled in the global race for markets and raw materials. No where is this more apparent than in Africa where the Chinese are converging on the continent intent on reaping economic benefits of all sorts from the continent's vast resources and vastly potential markets. This new phenomenon carries many wideranging implications for Africa some of which could be ominous.
Africa's bloggers, wary of the consequences and the experiences of the continent's last colonization, that by the western world through the late 20th century, are keeping a watchful eye on China's new proliferation on their continent. Emeka Okafor writing on Africa Unchained notes that the Chinese have had an interest in African affairs for a long time, “In fact, as early as 1963 Julius Nyerere of Tanzania
complained of a new scramble for Africa between the Soviet Union and China.”
In Africa's New Friend, Blacklooks puts it this way;
China is in desperate need of oil as the number of private owned vehicles increasess from 56% in 2002 to 75% in 2003. Presently growth is between 10 and 15%. As part of its drive for new sources of oil, PetroChina International and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have recently signed an agreement in which NNPC will sell 30,000 barrels of oil per day. (Nigeria's oil production is presently estimated at some 75 million bpd).
China is not stopping its commerical relationship with Nigeria there. According to the China View Online, China has also submitted bids for two oil blocks starting in August and is considering building a Hydro-station and has expressed an interest in taking over the Kaduna oil refinery if it is privatised.
Nigeria is not the only African country courted by China. China is actively involved in Sudanese oil where it has a number of concessions. 60% of Sudan's oil is exported to China and China is involved in all aspects of oil exploration and production.
“China's main interest in Africa is raw materials. Driven by the need to satisfy its humongous population with the trappings of a modern life, China seems to be stretching out its tentacles all across the globe grabbing markets.”
Chippla concludes the entry with this warning to continent's leaders about how they should be responding to the opportunities presented by China's interest in the continent,
“In my opinion, African governments need to concentrate on two facets of society education, primarily science education, and healthcare. An uneducated populace simply cannot fit into the sphere of today's world. With a highly educated workforce, such governments will eventually see growth. There is more to economic development than foreign investments.”
Why all the interest in the forgotten continent? A goodie bag of exploitable markets and exploitable resources. China has flooded Africa with cheap textiles, rice, and electronics…Africa, in turn, is feeding the insatiable Asian thirst for energy.
It's not that Africa is unwillingly being exploited and pillaged. To the contrary, some of the continent's leaders are actively turning to China in response to the West standing firmly behind it's decision not to prop up the continent's corrupt despots. In The Little Red Email it is sattirically put this way,
What do you do when you are an internationally reviled administration in search of cash, and armed with plenty of raw materials? Why, head to China of course for a warm embrace with the Chinese Communist Party. Whereas the G8 gives financial aid to African states on the condition of improvements in human rights (and easy multinational access to domestic markets), the CCP offers its support to dictators without moral stipulations.
According to Zimpundit Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe's isolated leader has been telling his economically distraught nation, “Go east young nation, go east.” Mugabe is apparently ordering large portions of the “Asian invasion” as tonic for Zimbabwe's anaemic economy. Zimpundit cautions
While good for the ailing economy, the Asia inertia impacts the Zimbabwean crisis in a unique way, and deserves delicate and diligent evaluation of it's function in the advance of democracy here and the excaberation of the global “east-west rift.”
But not all Africans are jubilantly hopping and skipping their way to the bank rejoicing over the emergence of “the beast from the east.” Zimbabwean blog This is Zimbabwe posted a circular on a protest vigil by exiled Zimbabweans at the Chinese embassy in the UK in an attempt to stop China from aiding Zimbabwe's malicious leaders.
Little doubt remains over this fact: the Chinese are in Africa and are going leave their marks there.