Is Africa Ready for a China-Led Era?

Published on 26th May 2020

The European Union’s bid to warm towards China in the dawn of the ‘end of an American led system,’ the shift of power from the West to the East and quest to follow its own interests and values without being ‘instrumentalized’ opens a new era in the world. Can Africa take a leaf from the unfolding developments? The continent is living the dreams of other civilizations. Without a well-crafted center of gravity -- a set of African ideas and values -- the continent is tossed left and right in the sea of geopolitical interests. 

For Africa, China is an alternative trade partner. Having studied the weakness of the West’s approach in Africa, namely buying artificial stability for fear of migrants from Africa, hiding behind development aid, and exporting value systems to further its own commercial interests, Chinese took the approach of deals and hardball bargains rather than fronting altruism. This has accorded Africans an alternative source of international cooperation with mega intra-Africa infrastructure projects.

Africa should be cognizant of the fact that once the Chinese interests in Africa expand to a significant level, the Chinese too, will likely start to set the agenda for Africa just like the West has been doing for over 50 years. A pointer is China’s vacuuming up years of data from its construction projects across Africa and racist tendencies.

Having interacted with various global players, seen what has worked or failed to work for them and witnessed the outcomes of their interaction, Africa has a unique opportunity to learn from history and take advantage of both the Chinese and Western interests to grow the continent’s relevance in the global market or craft its own growth trajectory. 


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