Thursday, May 22, 2014

China and its African neo-colonialism

David Owiro, project officer at local think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), tells IPS that  “China’s interest in Africa is primarily based on Africa’s mineral wealth.” Angola is rich in diamonds and their longstanding relation with China is built on that natural wealth, adding that “Angola’s capital Luanda is home to nearly three million Chinese.”

 During the May 4 to 11 trip, Li attended the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, and visited Ethiopia, Angola and Kenya.

During his visit to Kenya, Li and the government signed 15 deals — particularly relating to construction and agriculture. This included the controversial Standard Gauge Railway deal where China will fund and build a 3.8-billion-dollar railway from Kenya’s port of Mombasa to Nairobi in the project’s first phase. The railway will eventually connect Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Under the terms of the agreement, Exim Bank of China will provide 90 percent of the cost and Kenya the remaining 10 percent.

“The project is too expensive and makes no economic sense. The period it will take Kenya to repay China for this loan has also not been made clear,” Owiro says.  Owiro also said, China is currently not transferring any technological knowledge “all the Chinese-driven construction in Africa is done by the Chinese themselves. It is only after an outcry during the building of Nairobi-Thika Superhighway that the Chinese brought in a few Kenyans to do a few manual jobs”.

Ken Ogwang, a Nairobi-based property developer and economic expert, says that there are about 2,500 Chinese firms in Africa, but the continent is still getting a raw deal.
“Studies have shown that Chinese firms in Africa create very minimal sub-economies. Where Chinese companies have been building roads, you expect locals to begin earning from feeding the constructors, housing them and so on,” he tells IPS. But, as Owiro explains, this does not happen. “The Chinese build their own campuses, and bring in what they need.

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