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Opinion | Jan 4, 2019

With Loans China Colonizes And Develops Africa

New colonialism: African workers waiting for the orders of new colonial masters, the Chinese
New colonialism: African workers waiting for the orders of new colonial masters, the Chinese

Major European powers turned their close attention to the Black Continent only in the second half of the 19th century. However, they coped with the colonial division of Africa very quickly.

By 1900, only two states remained south of the Sahara, which could be considered to some extent independent. Liberia, founded by black American slaves settlers who had returned from the US, and Ethiopia, ruled by the Abyssinian emperors.

By the beginning of World War I, the seizure of part of the African continent, by Europeans of the northern, Arab, had virtually ended. For most territories, this colonial period in their history was not too long.

Already in the 1950s, an avalanche-like process of gaining independence by new countries began, the culmination of which began in 1960, the Year of Africa, when 17 former colonies became independent at once.

However, the majority of new states experienced unrest and unstable governments.

Coup after coup in the African continent turned into another arena of confrontation between two political and socio-economic systems, the capitalist, led by the United States government and the socialist, under the Soviet Union.

One of the minor, but at the same time, independent players in Africa has become the People’s Republic of China. China built communism, but Chairman Mao, especially after an epic row with Nikita Khrushchev, had his own vision.

Beijing first supported the movement of African states for independence, and after receiving it, began to provide the newly independent countries with all possible economic assistance.

The first major Chinese project in Africa was the railway linking the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with the Zambian city of Kapiri-Mposhi.

In just five years,1970-1975, 50,000 engineers and builders from the People's Republic of China, mainly military, built a highway of 1860 kilometers long, which gave Zambia and its resources, primarily copper ore, access to the sea.

This super-project, which cost China and its African partners the equivalent of the current $ 2.5 billion, has remained Beijing’s main investment in the continent for three decades.

In China, there was a cultural revolution, then Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms began, and again this state turned to Africa in the 21st century, when this heavy political influence and practically unlimited economic resources allowed it to do.

The Chinese returned to the Black Continent in triumph, deploying vigorous activity in dozens of countries at once. In 1980, the Sino-African trade was estimated at $ 1 billion, in 1999, it reached $ 6.5 billion, and in the year 2000, it exceeded $ 10 billion.

Then it grew at an enormous pace every year: 2006, $ 55 billion; 2010, $ 114 billion, and to date, this figure has taken a mark of $ 200 billion. Now, the People's Republic of China is, with a large margin, the most important trade and economic partner of the whole of Africa, a source of credits, economic and engineering assistance.

For many countries, such attention of Beijing has become real salvation. With the end of the Cold War, the financial flows to the African continent continue, resulting in the opposing superpowers losing Africa.

The Soviet Union collapsed and the interest of the United States and its European partners also declined proportionally. In the absence of an alternative socio-economic model, it was no longer necessary to support regimes, the odiousness of some of which reached a critical point. This vacant niche was occupied by China in the 21st century.

For 15 years, 2000–2015, the People's Republic of China has invested almost $ 100 billion in various African countries. The scope of even current projects is amazing.

On January 1, 2018, the Addis Ababa - Ethiopia and the Djibouti railway were officially commissioned. 760 kilometers of the main line was built from 2011. The project was built on Chinese loans, with the budget exceeding $ 3 billion.

As usual, the loans were associated with certain conditions. The contractors were the largest Chinese construction corporations, rolling stock purchased for the road was also Made in China.

Even the final point of the road through which Ethiopia will continue to export its products through the new port of Doraleh in Djibouti was built on the same Chinese money.

Joel Savage
Joel Savage, © 2019

Joel Savage is a Ghanaian-Belgian journalist and author. The accredited press-card holder of the Flemish Journalists Association once contributed regularly to the features column of the Daily Graphic, The Mirror, Ghanaian Times and the Weekly Spectator. The writer currently lives in Belgium.,

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