The suffering of the African people today is because of the theft of our resources by our erstwhile colonizers under colonialism. Today, they now loot resources through their African puppet governments. As Karl Marx described it, “the turning of Africa into a commercial warren for the hunting of black skins” was one of the chief sources of “primitive accumulation” that “signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.”
Colonial governments like France still compel their former colonies to pay tax to them. In South Africa, the ANC government is still paying the apartheid debt. In Zimbabwe, the government inherited the debt from the colonial white settler regime. Why are these countries paying for the debts which accrued from loans which used to fund the oppressive and reactionary operations against Blacks by these racist former governments? The problem is that the majority of African citizens are not privy or do not have a clue about the terms and conditions of the agreements which ushered in independence for most of the African governments. Most Africans are not privy to the conditions that are agreed upon when deals are signed with the so called investors.
Africans must be worried about the ballooning debt owed to the Chinese government. In Zambia there are allegations of a debt default by the government and the Chinese have taken over a tax payer owned entity (airport) as a result. There are also allegations that the Chinese have been drafted in the Zambian police. Forty percent of the continent’s countries are now at high risk of debt distress.
The Chinese loan you money so that you can pay one of their companies to build your project. They bring their own equipment and labor and at the end, there is zero benefit to the local poor and local working class. All the profits are siphoned to China. It’s a matter of time. China will bring its religion, spirituality and language into the African continent. Are Africans prepared?
Is China billions in Africa smart money? China is now the fastest growing economy and it has overtaken the US as Africa’s largest trading partner. The first incursion of China in Africa dates back to the 1960s, when Chairman Mao Zedong supported the liberation movements in Africa. The first China mega project was the Tazara railway line, stretching from the copper mines of Zambia to Dar es salaam. There are plans to link it up with Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi which are landlocked countries.
Between 2000 – 2015, China has loaned a whopping $95.5 billion on Africa infrastructural development and power projects. The biggest question is, are the beneficiaries going to repay these loans? In the event of failure to repay what will happen? Ethiopia got an electric railway. The project was funded by the Chinese bank at a tune of 2.5 billion pounds and it was built by Chinese companies. Chinese infrastructure projects stretch all the way to Angola and Nigeria, with ports planned along the coast from Dakar to Libreville and Lagos.
Angola has been granted US$ 42.2 billion loan which is almost half of its annual GDP nationally. Chinese loans to Angola on infrastructural development are paid off with oil.
To safeguard its access to cheap resources and extend its influence, China promised Africa US$60 billion at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). China’s growing economy has a huge appetite for energy and raw materials for its industry. This is bringing it into collision with its erstwhile colonizers in Africa who have gone on a spirited crescendo of anti-Chinese sentiment. Chinas investment in Congo is mainly in mining of copper and cobalt which is used in electronics that are primarily produced in China.
China is bent on having Africa in its pocket. China claims to implement projects and provide infrastructure but these projects are dependent on deals made at the highest political levels. The promises of job creation have not been fulfilled. Further, when Africans are hired, local rules and regulations are often flouted and the Chinese get protection from their host governments leading at times to poor safety. Jobs are lost to Chinese employees who are ferried in project by project.
In Nigeria, the influx of low priced Chinese textile goods has caused 80% of Nigerian companies in the industry to close. China buys from Africa mainly natural resources, minerals and metals African countries import primarily the finished products ranging from machinery and electrical goods to plastics and rubber.
A new scramble for Africa is unfolding and escalating. The main players are China, the E.U and the US. India, Brazil, Turkey, Iran, South Korea and the Gulf countries are also interested in increasing cooperation with Africa. These countries seek to expand their economies beyond oil and gas sectors.
As European global powers commemorate 100 years after the end of the World War 1, many of the factors that stared the world wars are so glaring. Another world war is looming and the battle ground is going to be Africa. Superpowers are once again competing for influence in Africa. The United States is concerned about the threats to its hegemony on the African continent. United States is confronted with the resurgence of its old rivals in Europe and Asia and the emergency of a potential new challenger in the form of China.
The African masses and working class must rise up to defend Africa’s resources. Africa needs economic engagements that put the best interests of Africa first. African leaders must counter imperialistic maneuvers and protect the continent’s vital interests.
By Mafa Kwanisai Mafa (Zimbabwe)