Media portrays the Chinese as a new colonial power in Africa but what they ignore is how much China needs Africa. As a growing economy, China needs African energy, resources and access to African markets. ‘Made in China’ products over the past two decades have had a devastating effect on local manufacturing. For example, textiles from China have decimated the once thriving textile industry in South Africa. Countries such as Ethiopia have recently seen the benefits of rising investments by Chinese manufacturers. Huajian, a Chinese shoe producer, has increased its employment from the initial 600 to 3,500 in a few years.
During his visit to the African Union in 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced that China expects to achieve $400 billion in trade volumes with Africa and raise its direct investment in the continent to $100 billion by 2020. China’s investments will be mainly in infrastructure development and be channeled through various Chinese lending agencies, including the newly established BRICS Bank. Such a sustained injection of investment capital from China is bound to create opportunities in all sectors.
In Africa’s price-sensitive marketplace, telecommunications infrastructure, for example, has become very reliant upon Chinese technology, which is competitively priced, durable and enjoys strong back-up service compared to its Western competitors. Similarly, Chinese construction companies are able to overcome difficulties and deliver roads and bridges on budgets that cannot be matched by Western or even local companies. Lets admit it though, Chinese companies do not always get it right.