Friday, March 11, 2011

Africa trading with China: A positive focus

The evolving relationship between China and Africa could be one of the most important developments in the international relations of the post-Cold-War era," say Kweku Ampiah and Sanusha Naidu.

The past two decades have witnessed the growth of an increasingly close relationship between Africa and China. China's phenomenal economic growth has had many positive implications for the African continent, including increased trade, investment, and development. Africa has experienced significantly higher levels of foreign direct investment as a result of its engagement with China, the latter having established more than 540 companies and 1600 development projects in 47 African countries. This number rose sharply to 750 companies by 2007.

However, the Africa-China relationship has sparked much debate, as scholars and economists alike try to interpret what it means for Africa's development in the long term. Ampiah and Naidu present two competing visions of this relationship: one casts China as a coloniser, the other views China as a competitor with the West. Many see China as an imperialist that seeks to exploit Africa and perpetuate its deplorable state of underdevelopment, but others argue that China competes with the West for Africa's resources and that this situation affords Africa the opportunity to promote its growth and development in an international system largely dominated by the West. This newsletter by Consultancy Africa Intelligence (CAI) argues that the China-Africa relationship, questionable as it may be, should be hailed for challenging hegemonic Western power and for actively supporting development in Africa. More