Africa’s friendship for China goes beyond economic and development cooperation.

By Azhar Azam

The Africa-China cooperation is described as a relationship between two partners in which Africa wants to gain from China’s development model and circumvent western pressure, to make political and economic reforms such as infamous structural adjustment, through Chinese soft lending and unconditional access to expertise.

China is a most reliable African ally and perhaps the only major economy never intended to colonize the continent. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in September 2018 defended Chinese involvement and refuted the western view that a new colonialism was taking hold in Africa.

The pandemic was expected to threaten the 30-plus year tradition during which every Chinese foreign minister kicked off the New Year from his visit to Africa but the virus couldn’t affect the unshakable friendship as Wang Yi successfully completed his first overseas tour in 2021 to Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles.

Since the first triennial FOCAC summit, two sides have closely worked together and delivered more than 70 percent outcomes on all eight major initiatives including industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, healthcare, people-to-people exchange and peace and security.

In the throes of global pandemic, Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is maintaining its momentum as more than 1,100 cooperation projects are going on seamlessly in Africa with about 100,000 Chinese technicians and engineers constantly giving their valuable contributions to improve the economic and social well-being of African communities.

The world’s second-largest economy hasn’t dithered to extend its steadfast support to help Africa mitigate a hard set of economic, infrastructure, poverty and security challenges. In addition to this, the association between the two ancient civilizations is so comprehensive and deep that every new concept only reinvigorates the already strengthened bilateral ties.

Besides opening a number of Confucius Institutes and establishing 150 pairs of sister cities in Africa to enhance the people-to-people ties, China has funded construction of soccer stadiums and government buildings in at least eight African countries to promote sporting and cultural activities and enrich African’s cultural life.

While progress on wide-reaching, public-oriented and eco-friendly projects will spread infrastructure networks, uplift trade, alleviate environmental risks and encourage more locally based industrial operations – Chinese efforts to engage African people in artistic and recreational events would buff up their hidden creative potential and add another dimension to reinvigorate an ever-growing relationship.

Between 2013 and 2018, the proportion of Chinese aid to Africa had increased to 47 percent from 36 percent in 2010-12. David Shinn, a professor at Elliot’s School of International Affairs at George Washington University, reckoned that Africa is now receiving $3.3 billion a year from China on account of foreign aid as compared to $2.5 billion previously.

The robust increase in foreign aid reflected China was regularly sharing the achievements of its economic growth and benefits of transition from low- to middle-income group with African people. It also reaffirmed that the long geographical distance could not restrict the intimate connection from transcending to the micro levels.

Aerial-photo-shows-the-Mazeras-Bridge-of-the-Mombasa-Nairobi-standard-gauge-railway-in-Kenya-May-12-2017.-Photo -Xinhua

Out of some 42 countries that have started rolling out coronavirus vaccines, no one is from low-income states. As rich nations have taken complete control of the entire vaccine supply chain, billions of high-risk people in the developing world, with almost the entire Africa comprising over 50 nations, could be left out until next year.

Amid selfish gestures of wealthy countries to hoard vaccines for their citizens, China is building a COVID-19 vaccine delivery conduit to immunize Africa with a cold-chain air bridge from Shenzhen to a logistical hub in Addis Ababa with manufacturing capabilities in Egypt and Morocco. The big courtesy will win over African hearts and further elevate China’s standing in the continent.

Western media casts doubts on a promise made by China to provide vaccines to Africa on priority basis. The biased approach would take a dive as Egypt has already obtained the first batch of China’s Sinopharm vaccine on December 10 and Morocco received it on January 27 after Moroccan authorities found the Chinese vaccine complied with “international standards of quality and health safety.”

The seven consensuses Abuja and Beijing reached seven consensuses during Wang’s visit to Africa will promote bilateral cooperation on green and digital economy apart from accelerating Nigerian industrialization and improving independent development capabilities under BRI framework. The adoption of technology and clean economic expansion will reduce unemployment and poverty – key drivers fueling cultism, farming conflicts, kidnapping, banditry and violent extremism in Nigeria.

Green environmental protection, Blue Ocean and tourism are the three key areas China is willing to enhance collaboration with Seychelles. Beijing’s support to cope with climate change, pledge to encourage Chinese tourists to visit the small African island and cooperation in the fields of seafood farming, maritime scientific research and shipping transportation will diversify the heavily tourism-reliant economy.

On debt relief, China has signed debt service suspension agreements with 12 African countries and waived off the matured interest-free loans for 15 continental nations through the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. While Beijing looks to widen the scope to other African countries to ease their debt crisis, the signing-up of the DRC and Botswana as 45th and 46th BRI partners will allow them to become part of a great clean-and-green development and modernization process.

The bottom line is that it’s not just Chinese financing, infrastructure development, trade boosting and industrialization efforts, which have charmed and fascinated the African governments and people to fall in love with China. Beijing has earned this honor through its understanding of Africa’s priorities, respect for African culture, care of the continent’s environment and people’s health and decades of untiring unwavering support for the continent.

Azhar Azam works in a private organization as market and business analyst and writes about geopolitical issues and regional conflicts. Views here represent author’s not necessarily DWC.


Belt Road Initiative Is a Catalyst For Economic Take-off; Critics Lack Facts

More than six years since China’s president Xi Jinping announced the birth of Belt Road Initiative (BRI), BRI as it is often referred too became a new and almost daily vocabulary in the field of International Relations and Global Politics. The project which is the world’s most ambitious infrastructure investment in mankind’s history has caused debate among scholars, policy makers and politicians. 

Despite BRI’s very well-known objectives such as promotion of economic prosperity for countries in the project, strengthening exchanges and mutual learning between various civilizations, promoting regional economic cooperation, peace and development which has never changed, some quarters continue to ignored these known objectives and have instead ventured in promoting their theories like the so called ‘debt diplomacy’, ‘debt trap’ and fables like its Beijing’s hidden desire to extend her influence on global stage which all are certainly far from reality.

Sadly, BRI sceptics focus more on their fears ignoring undeniable fact backed benefits the project will bring to the over 70 countries that account to over 65% of world’s population. Certainly, improving connectivity between China and countries of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and America’s by improving infrastructure development for telecommunications networks, power plants, modern shipping lanes, railways, roads and airports at a time when there’s funding gaps is a huge step towards realizing world’s development or to be specific 65% of the world’s population which by numerical sense is a significant achievement.

Whereas it is a fact that BRI project is China lead, this should not be point of focus; we can actually go by Deng Xiaoping’s two cat theory after all, all countries along BRI project have a lot to gain from the project no matter who’s leading it.

In Africa for example, a 2019 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) funded study revealed that East African Region would greatly benefit from BRI project through trade exports with an increase of $192 million on annual basis. On the other hand, World Bank (WB) studies have also shown that Africa to meet her development targets and infrastructure development, annually, the continent needs $170 billion investments in infrastructure specifically for 10 years. Whereas this figure is too big to raise raise annually, African Development Banks (ADB) argues that African countries can seize China – Africa good relations and source funds from BRI project to fill their infrastructure funding gaps.

With this in mind, African countries stand higher chances of gaining from BRI. Put differently, Countries that are alongside BRI project have great economic benefits only that “sino-sceptics” by choice have opted to focus on the so-called “debt trap.” On outlook, the arguments from BRI critics seem to hold, but on closer analysis, it is simply a cobweb of politics with geopolitics feart.

 The U.S for example which from the start has been sceptic about the project, the only reason they have put forward is that the project is a “debt trap”, but the real fear is psychological – a belief that the project puts China more at a stage of Global politics which to some who believe that the U.S is meant to dominate feel it’s unacceptable and have therefore resorted to nonexistence ‘debt-trap’ feart theory despite lacking facts to back them.

Therefore, African countries, their elites and China should not wait for “sino-skeptics” to shape the BRI agenda in Africa. The best way to counter this anti-African development talk with “debt-diplomacy” theories is to ensure right information is in public. There is need for African scholars, Universities and think tanks to do more research and provide empirical evidences other than allowing non fact backed ‘sino-sceptics’ to shape BRI debate with their debt trap theories.


Ssemanda Allawi 

Twitter @SsemandaAllawi


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