Chinese Investment in Africa and the Woes of Western Aid

Over a year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a severe warning to Africa’s emerging economies, “beware of China’s new colonialism.” Clinton stressed how important it is for Africa’s emerging economies to resist the old colonial practices of foreign investors looking “to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave.” She also urged African nations to apply the same investment standards to the Chinese as they would to Americans and Europeans, reminding the people of Sub-Saharan Africa that the Obama Administration is genuinely interested in helping their economies grow and prosper.

However, economist Dambisa Moyo argues that Chinese foreign investment in Sub-Saharan Africa is favorable to the continent and pure in its intentions. She prefaces her argument by pointing out that China has now surpassed the United States as the continent’s single largest trading partner, increasing foreign direct investment to the region from $100 million to $12 billion in eight years. Moyo recognizes how this staggering increase in Chinese foreign investment has made many western powers wary, but refutes the notion that Africans are being exploited by the Chinese with data from 2007 Pew Research Poll which shows that 91% of Kenyans feel that China’s involvement in their economy is beneficial, against just 74% who feel America’s has any influence. She further disputes the claim that China is using its own workforce in Africa by highlighting that the ratio of African to Chinese workers in Zambia is now 13 to 1.  Moyo does however mention that human rights abuses should receive appropriate investigation but that China should not be generalized as hostile with regard to its approach toward Africa.

Moyo concludes her criticism of Secretary Clinton’s assertion by claiming that maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Western aid to the region has decreased, citing that aid has been a primary hindrance of  democracy and has harbored the corruption which has kept the region’s economy stagnant for so long. She suggests that America’s efforts will only prove beneficial once they put the onus of government accountability and responsibility on local governments instead, summarizing that “foreign investment and job creation are the only forces that can reduce poverty and stave off the sort of political upheaval that has swept the Arab world. And China’s rush for resources has…created a large market for African exports-a huge benefit for a continent seeking rapid economic growth.”

Posted By: Jonathan Sherman

Sources: Huffington Post, New York Times

Photo Credit: Dambisa Moyo @ Canada 2020 courtesy of Flickr user Canada.2020

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One Response to Chinese Investment in Africa and the Woes of Western Aid

  1. Good post.Your article is really informative.China is one the of the leaders now when it comes to trading and is a symbol now for Business minded individuals surpassing US .Thus,with Africa,as the investment place,i’ms sure Africa is in good hands thus,I worry about the nature of Chinese of hoarding.I guess experts in the field of Investing will really have a comment on this.

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