AFRICAN DIASPORA: U.S. still Africa’s top trade partner
China pouring billions into sub-Saharan Africa’s economy; rapidly closing the trade gap on U.S. By KEVIN MWANZA DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — China is fast becoming the preferred trade partner for economic development by many African
China pouring billions into sub-Saharan Africa’s economy; rapidly closing the trade gap on U.S.
By KEVIN MWANZA
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — China is fast becoming the preferred trade partner for economic development by many African governments that have, however, been accused of prioritizing economic development over civil rights and freedoms.
The Asian superpower rivals the U.S. and has outmatched it especially in Southern, Central, and North Africa, according to a survey by Afrobarometer, a research project in sub-Saharan Africa.
The research conducted in 36 African countries and interviewed 56,000 people, ranked the U.S. first at 30 percent, closely followed by China with 24 percent.
“Despite considerable criticism in the media of China’s interests and operations in Africa, Africans view China’s emergence as an addition to the economic playing field,” Afrobarometer said.
China was one of the world’s poorest nations in 1978 but undertook transformational policies that have turned it into the second-biggest economy in just three decades. African nations will greatly benefit from adopting similar agricultural reforms that transformed the industry in China.
Agriculture is the largest employer in Africa but largely remains under-utilized. It accounts for at least 25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.
Adverse climatic conditions and poor farming methods have however hindered most farmers from fully reaping its benefits.
The nation has addressed high-level corruption within the government, an initiative that President Xi Jinping has made one of his key agendas. High profile politicians and officials from the ruling Communist Party have been punished for the vice, the BBC reported.
Suspended death sentences and life prison sentences are some of the heavy penalties that high-profile corruption attracts in China, a model that most African nations can use to tame a vice that has seen colossal amounts of public funds stolen and misused by public officials.
In Kenya and South Africa, many cases of high-profile corruption within the government have however gone unpunished, unlike in China.
The relentless fight against corruption has ensured that the much-needed infrastructure and public services have been funded.
In Africa, one of China’s impacts on the continent has been in the infrastructural sector where new railways, roads and expansion of airports are undergoing in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.
China, despite its economic relations with Africa that have largely steered clear of political influence, has influenced authoritarian governments in Ethiopia and Rwanda, two of the continent’s fastest growing economies
In Ethiopia, security forces have killed hundreds of Oromo and Amharic protesters, who have been protesting against economic and political marginalization by successive regimes.
There have also been numerous incidents of rape, pillaging, torture and kidnapping by security forces under the pretext of quelling the violent protests, The Hill reported.
In Rwanda, Human Rights Watch has accused the government of running unofficial detention centers.
Both governments have also censored internet usage, intimidated journalists, mostly on content considered anti-government. The Chinese government is considered authoritarian and has been accused of similar violations of human rights and freedoms.
Africa has emerged as the biggest market for mainland railway and engineering companies. Photo: Xinhua