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China is not a new imperial power, rather a true development partner for African countries
By George Mentu, published in The Guardian on March 9th.
2019-03-25 21:58

The West generally look at China as a new imperial power in Africa, they always saying that, China is using predatory loan practices that, undermining African's economic growth and creating few jobs in the continent. They further claiming that, China; is bringing in all its own workers, steals local jobs, grabbing African natural resources and land. This is not true; the fact is that, most of the natural resources in Africa are in the hands of Western-invested companies. China is a true partner and has been the solution to many African problems; it provides a lucrative loan, with low interest and long-term repayment period than that of the west. This negative view of western nations against China has been built based on fear, knowing that they are losing their influence in Africa to China. China Offers low interest loans to African nations to help them build their infrastructure that the West has failed to assist. Loans and financial aid that offered by China, have significantly reduced the gap of infrastructure shortages such as roads, harbours, bridges, airports, power generation and telecommunication. It has also helped build a major infrastructure project that links borders of many African countries and have greatly contributed to economic growth in the continent.

Throughout years, Africa has existed in the Western imagination as its part of their lasting interests. They also regard Africa as a continent that needs help only for basic needs, a place of needy and helpless souls where they can live out their fantasies of missionary heroism. These negative imaginations do not completely exist in China's mind in its plans to help African countries. China has essentially treated Africa not as a continent in need of saving or lecturing, but as a partner in a long-term business deal. It displays no self-appointed missionary zeal, and has approached African states with an amoral and persuasive message based on mutual benefit. China treats Africa with far more dignity than Western governments who view the Africans as hopeless children who need guidance. So, Western nations should stop complaining about China, Instead, they should blame themselves for their failure to help Africa build its own infrastructure and have an independent economy.

It is sad to see that, instead of western nations joining force with China to support African development; they are attacking and opposing its efforts to get rid of Africa from poverty. What Africans needs know is that, when we needed the West most to help in the construction of our infrastructure, they were not ready and instead, placed difficult strings. But when we asked for help from our friend China, it helped without any strings. One of the examples is TAZARA railway; the West refused to fund the project and placed difficult strings. But when China was asked to assist in the construction, she accepted without hesitation. It should also be noted that, at that time, China was still a poor country referred to as the third world. Thus, Africans have every reason and desire to choose a friend who we think will help eradicate us from poverty, and of course; that partner and true friend of us, is only China.  

Western nations claim that, many Chinese companies do not employ locals, and that, they do not offer professional training. But these claims are not true, and are intended to mislead the truth, more than three quarters of the Chinese firm's workers are, in fact, locals.  Over 400 Chinese enterprises and projects in Africa, over 85% of their work force, consist of local African workers. China has been sending its various groups of experts to come to Africa to provide professional training to the locals. In addition to that, China has a good policy that requires all Chinese citizen who are coming to Africa to undertake projects that funded by the Chinese Government to live as locals in the respective countries.  That policy also requires all Chinese specialists to train and ensure that locals are gaining sufficient skills and expertise. One example is the construction of a largest library in Africa at Dar es Salaam University funded by the Chinese Government and built by a Chinese company. During the construction, the contractor of this project cooperated fully with UDSM and provided several internship opportunities for college student in architecture, civil engineering and other related field.

During the 2015 FOCAC Summit held in Johannesburg, China pledged to provide 30,000 scholarships to African student until the end of 2018, the promise that were fully fulfilled.  And at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in September 2018, the Chinese Government promised to provide Africa with 50,000 Government scholarship and 50,000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops, it also pledged to invite 2,000 Africans to visit China for Exchanges. Apart from that, China is sending many groups of Agriculture expert, Doctors and Nurses to come to Africa to treat patients, to conduct surgery and to provide Morden agricultural trainings to locals. These specialists have contributed greatly in treating diseases, surgery, nursing and educating locals on how to run modern agriculture. Without any doubt, at present, China is the only country that offers many scholarships to Africans for higher education and short-term training than any other country. So, in terms of technical and technological training, China is the only country that is dependable to bringing and enhancing knowledge, technical skills and technology for Africans.

Looking at the implementation of construction projects funded by the Chinese Government, China has set a law that requires experts and Chinese technicians to retain their technology, knowledge and skills in the countries they operate. Also, the policy requires them to provide training to locals so that they can get enough skills to manage and develop their infrastructure once they finish construction and return home. This program aims to enable African countries to have more professionals and technicians with high skills to manage and repair the infrastructure of their countries. It also helps reduce the cost of hiring foreign expert and technicians. To ensure that their plan is successful, President Xi Jinping through the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit 2015 promised that, China could build 5 universities for transportation.

The purpose of this initiative was, first; helping African countries to have more specialists and technicians who will be able to run and repair their country's infrastructure after Chinese companies have finished building and leaving. Secondly, to help African Governments reduce the cost of sending people to study and learn abroad. Tanzania is one of the countries that will benefit from this opportunity because one of the Universities will be built in the country.  China has promised to build and transform the National Institute of transportation 'NIT'' become a university of transportation for east and central Africa. This college will produce jobs, but also many Tanzanians will have the opportunity to learn there and get professional training.

The contribution of Chinese companies to African development is far greater than that of the western companies.  In this sector, there is a big difference between Chinese companies and western companies on how they contribute in the development of Africa continent. For some years, western companies have been busy transferring the jobs from Africa and sending them back to their homes or to their chosen countries. But for China is quite different, it has begun transferring its small and medium-sized enterprises to Africa and other developing countries. Many Chinese firms are now outsourcing their own manufacturing to developing countries. While the Chinese firms are transferring their technology and skills to Africa, Western companies are outsourcing their technology and skill back to their home and or, 'HUBING'. This has led many young Africans unable to practise their professionals, and has also made them become professionalism dormant. The so called ''Outsourcing jobs'' from Africa, has caused many locals to lose their job, and it is a development barrier in the continent.  Many young Africans graduate especially IT's, have remained with no job to do due to this new neo-colonialism. Thus, western companies are contributing to weaken the development of Africa rather than contributing to economic growth.

In Africa, over 600 million Africans have no access to electricity, of which, 40 percent of the Chinese loans are directed to power generation and transmission. Another 30 percent mostly go to modernizing Africa's disintegrating transport infrastructure. These Chinese loans generally have comparatively low interest rates and long repayment periods than those of the western countries. These infrastructure projects are investments that boost economic growth in all over the continent. According to the Western claim, is that, China offers large loans to African countries for wanting to take their companies and or, their organizations if fails to repay back their debts. But, China's perspective in Africa is totally different from that of the west, it regards Africa as a natural partner with a shared future, when providing loans and economic aid to African nations; it helps to enable them to build their economic development frameworks. Based on that, Africans should ignore such propagandas; instead, our answers to them should lie in the economic, security and historical exchanges between our countries. Africans are supposed to wake up and tell the western people that, Chinese projects in Africa have created several million jobs. Meanwhile, more than 70 per cent of Chinese enterprises have provided skills and training and over 40% have conducted technology transfers to the local market.

The West need to know that; several cities that were in darkness, are now lighting, and transport from one country to another has been easy. All of this is because of massive China's investments, Loans and financial aids. China has been a great help to our development and economic growth, So, Africans should not let anyone to hold us back in the dark times. We have every reason to be proud of our partnership with China, Thus, we should strengthen our relationship with China since it is the only country that understands Africa's problems and always ready to solve it.


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