Wednesday, 14 May 2014

China: Africa's Game Changer?

The coming of China to Africa’s erroneously thought would pose a challenge to western countries that have, for long, been exploiting and suffocating our African economies. Thus, it’d act as a game changer. Nonetheless, looking at what’s been going wherever China’s already sank her talons, nothing’s going to change. If there’s any change, it is only that of masters. We used to western eagles, wolves, hawks and what not. Now Africa must brace itself to dance with a tiger. All in all and above all, exploitation and imbalanced relationship will still go on despite having a new partner in China.
When Chinese premier visited Kenya recently, the Daily Nation wrote: Kenya’s exports to China stand at $50 million annually while the country’s imports from the Southeast Asian nation stand at $3.2 billion. This is neither a good nor one and the same picture. This unprovoked trend’s been so for long. For instance, according to the Tanzanian Daily News, in 2002, the total trade volume between China and Tanzania came to USD 128 million, of which China's export was USD 121 million and import USD6.62 million. I’m sure the situation is the same with Uganda and other East African countries.
Looking at the above figures one can see how bleak the situation is if it is not arrested. In a simple parlance, Africa’s traditionally been a dumpster for western countries as they got away with our natural resources. Now China’s coming in even more vigorously. Essentially, after colonialism became unfeasible for the west, it invented another new type of exploitation based on clientele producer-consumer relationship between Africa and the west which led to our dependence and technological backward. Therefore, one’d think that the coming of China would tip the balance.  Looking at how substandard goods China is thrusting into Africa, the trend goes on and chances are that the situation’s going to worsen even more.
Al Jazeera recently aired a program in which Senegalese traditional shoe makers were complaining after being pushed out of the business by cheaper Chinese shoes.  Senegal isn't alone in this deportment. What transpired in Angola and Zambia a few years ago speaks volumes. Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais had this to say during this imbroglio, “Because of their growing visibility and growing power, along with their support of an increasingly corrupt government, the Chinese in Angola, to use an American phrase from the 1960s, have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.” Indeed, if we’re good importers of Chinese cheap and substandard merchandises thereby just export a fraction of what we import. Worse still, we export primary commodities. Chinese are indeed becoming a problem but not a solution. Who’s to blame if at all we invite them after falling out without traditional exploiters?  Time for complaining is over. Africa needs to competently and strategically deal with China learning from history of trading with western countries. This is only possible through putting our house in order.  Even if we avoid China due to her thirst and modus operandi, there’s nowhere to go. There’s no permanent enemy or friend where interests are.  It’ll be like avoiding a tiger to end up dancing with wolves. Either way, if Africa hangs onto on exporting unprocessed goods, she’ll always languish in begging and loaning.
The situation Africa’s confronted with is a double-edged sword. If we go back to the west that used to exploit and bully us, still exploitation will go on. Therefore, to evolve out of this game exultantly, Africa needs to face it. Change our old ways of doing things. Fight corruption. Believe that there won’t be any bright future without true independence namely economic, social and political one. We need to do away from exporting unprocessed goods by adding value to our goods. Africa needs to embark on industrial revolution so as to forge ahead competently and safely.
The coming of China’s nothing to apprize if we don’t change the way we do business. Things are likely to get worse given that Chinese are dealing with the already corrupted governments compared to how the situation was soon after independence.
Whether Africa’s going to gain or lose from new Sino-Afro partnership Paul Kameya, a 25-year-old miner at NFCA Mining, the Zambian unit of China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co. Ltd has the answer as he’s quoted by the Wall Street Journal saying, “The Chinese are just here to make a profit, to make their country rich.” When they make their country rich Africa becomes even poorer thanks to having no competent leadership in office to see to it that she benefits from this partnership.
While the west used to send a contingent of a small number of experts to man their interests in Africa, China sends everybody from experts to hawkers in the streets of Kariakoo, Kumasi and Luanda. This has created conflicts between Chinese and their hosts especially the jobless. The diplomat had this to say on this, “Yet, in recent months China has seen a rise in its deportations from the continent, as well as rising anti-Chinese sentiment among certain segments of African populations.” Apart from wiping out the trades that used to create jobs for Africans as seen in the example of Senegalese shoe makers, china is inundating our streets with its own job seekers. Recently, in Tanzania there were allegations of the commission of crimes involving Chinese criminal rings specialized in poaching. Some Chinese suspects are behind the bar in the country.
Source:African Executive Magazine May 14, 2014.

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