What Is The Current Wisdom on China’s Presence in Africa?

From Emmanuel Akyeampong, Professor of History at Harvard University, in The Zeleza Post:

[...] Since the relationship between China and Africa is evolving, any analysis would be a snapshot in a point of time of a very complex and changing relationship. But what is the current wisdom on China’s presence in Africa?

[...] [H]ere I want to end on some thoughts of why I consider China’s presence in Africa opportune and extremely important.

(1) There has been little infrastructural development in Africa since independence, when former colonial powers lost the incentive to invest in infrastructure. Existing infrastructure was aimed at extracting mineral and agricultural resources, not at servicing an integrated economy. In its offer of large loans and sometimes outright grants at low interest, with the more favorable terms of repayment, in the competitive bids tendered by Chinese construction companies, African countries have the opportunity to build and rehabilitate their infrastructure in ways that will service an integrated economy. We see this happening with Angola’s war-torn infrastructure, in spite of all the corruption issues. By the end of 2006 total trade between Angola and China had risen to US$11 billion, making Angola China’s largest trading partner in Africa.