G7’s B3W cannot answer Africa’s Infrastructure funding gaps; it is a Paper tiger.

Last week, the leaders of the so-called world’s big economies; Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Cornwall, England where the U.S president Joe Biden announced the ambitious project dubbed “build back better for the world” (B3W.) Shortly after this, officials in Washington explained  Biden’s B3W is all about a “ bold, new global infrastructure initiative with our G7 partners that will be values-driven, transparent and sustainable.”

No matter diplomatic and nice words the Biden administration use to sell B3W and the claim that the initiative is meant to bridge infrastructure funding gap especially in developing countries, closer analysis shows this is nothing but a cobweb of politics and an effort to counter China’s belt and road initiative (BRI) which Washington claims Beijing is using to grow China’s global influence.

But, can Biden’s B3W Work? Can it answer the growing infrastructure funding gaps especially in developing countries or it is just politics at play?

Explaining why he proposed B3E, president Biden told the journalists; “The point is that what’s happening is that China has this Belt and Road Initiative, and we think that there’s a much more equitable way to provide for the needs of countries around the world. And so it’s been — it’s a values-driven,… And we believe that will not only be good for the countries, but it’ll be good for the entire world and represent values that our democracies represent, and not autocratic lack of values.”

From the above statement, it is clear Biden’s B3W is meant to provide counterweight to China’s BRI which so far has infrastructure projects in over 126 countries, a development the U.S sees as opportunity for China to expand influence.

Further analysis of Biden’s statement is that, the logic often guiding the superpowers while addressing what they call global challenges is nothing but logic of power. It has never been about human rights and democracy or sovereignty and international laws and norms but just power. This is the common denominator, be the so-called democrats or authoritarian regimes. Put differently, U.S is not just about the promoting their so-called values or helping to bridge infrastructure funding gaps in developing countries but rather are worried of the over 126 countries and 26 international organizations that signed up for China’s BRI with many already benefiting. Washington thinks her influence in those countries will dimmish and hence, their global hegemony. This is what International Relations Professor and a Realist, John Mearsheimer calls the tragedy of Great Power politics!

Of course, it is very clear that Biden’s B3W is meant to rival China, which is the last thing the world especially developing world need now as they struggle to bridge infrastructure funding gaps. According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, between 2016 and 2030, the world needs $95 trillion which accounts to $6.3 trillion annually a figure that is too high to achieve that no well-meaning world leader would slander another country working to realise this goal.

According to African Development Bank (ADB), to meet their infrastructure needs that can allow them sustain their growing population, growing of their economies, and replacing ageing infrastructure, African countries have to spend between $130 – $170 billion annually, yet currently, half of that is unfunded despite heavy investments from China’s BRI to several African countries.

On the other hand, Refinitiv – a research group put funding gaps for infrastructure development at $15 trillion for the year 2020-2040. The same research group underscores China’s role in bridging infrastructural funding. According to their 2019 study, since president Xi Jinping launched Belt and Road initiative, over 2,600 projects many in Africa and other developing parts of the world have been supported, China spending over $3.7 trillion.

Fruits of improved infrastructure development in African countries cannot be hidden and no doubt, the benefits outweigh BRI critics claims. A good example is Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway line constructed with Chinese assistance which reduced the 759 kilometres journey from the staggering three days on road to just 12 hours on train which eases transportation of goods and services in the region. It is not a surprise that some pundits and economists refer to the line as a lifeline investment for both Ethiopia and Djibout as well as entire region. If analysed well, one can say the above are signs of early harvest and benefits of BRI project.

All this shows that China’s BRI has already played a significant role towards reducing infrastructure funding gap in the world and should be supported in good faith than rivalry terms.

Worth noting is that China’s support for infrastructure especially in developing countries is not just about politics but Beijing’s leadership belief of the need for a better world. Indeed, Asia Development Bank head, Jin Liqun once observed; “The Chinese experience illustrates that infrastructure investment paves the way for broad-based economic social development, and poverty alleviation comes as a natural consequence of that.” China has demonstrated to the world that investing in infrastructure is vital when it comes to economic development of the country. Since 1960s, the U.S’ total budget on infrastructure has been around 5.8% while China averages at 8% annually. Indeed, Chinese people have two common saying that; “要想富” , “先修路” loosely translated; “Better roads lead to better life.” and “Build roads if you want to get rich.” This possibly explains China’s success story that saw the country eradicate extreme poverty.

To answer earlier paused questions, Biden’s B3W will remain fancy on paper but will not work, it is a paper tiger. It should be recalled, that the U.S has in past announced similar projects to counter China’s BRI but in vain. First was then secretary of States, Mike Pompeo’s proposal to create a a $113 million fund to support infrastructure, development in developing countries. Despite being so minimal, the project failed to kick off.

Also, U.S and G7 allies promise of supporting to bridge funding gap in developing countries with $40 trillion is something the world cannot rely on. It should be recalled that while announcing his Foreign Policy, president Biden was categorical that his Foreign Policy will squarely focus on American workers and indeed, while announcing the 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine headed to developing countries, he emphasized that it was going to help American workers.

Considering that the U.S is also struggling to improve her infrastructure funding which has been at 5.8% since 1960, B3W has minimal chances to be supported by Americans who drive government’s Foreign Policy. True president Biden has proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan at home, but this must be approved by congress yet it is already facing opposition from Republicans. The logic question is; if president Biden is facing real struggle to win congressional support for his home infrastructure plan, can he easily win congressional support for his infrastructure plans meant to support developing countries which is part of a bone of his Foreign Policy? To sum it up, Biden’s B3W may sound great but won’t move anywhere, it a paper tiger.

Ssemanda Allawi, (PhD) is senior research Fellow at Development Watch Centre, a Foreign Policy think tank.

 

Sino-Africa Skepticism and “Debt Trap” Talk Lack Facts: Critics Are Wrong.

By Allawi Ssemanda

China’s funded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – a project that will bring easy connections to countries of East-Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East, China and the America’s has been viewed by critics of Sino-Africa relations with geopolitical lenses with frames insinuating that China imitated the project with hidden agenda. However, analysis and figures from credible international organizations such as World Bank and African Development bank underscores that BRI project – the first of it’s in the world’s history will provide African countries with greater opportunities which will enable these countries develop industrial capacity and infrastructure which are all key in the continent’s body (African Union) 2063 Vision.

Currently, about 29 international organizations and over 65 countries which represents 62% of the global population have either signed to join BRI or have shown interest in the project. This means that upon completion, the project will make the world’s largest market easy to access and traverse on road which is key in transportation and mobility of goods and services. Indeed, World Bank forecast suggest that as a result of BRI project, infrastructure, trade and investments links with China and several countries in BRI project will see improvement in trade and investments.

In Africa, over 20 countries including the continent’s largest and growing economies such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya have all joined the project. In East African Region, locals are already enjoying fruits of BRI project. For example, Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway line which is part of silk road reduced the 759 kilometres journey from three days on road to just 12 hours a great breakthrough in mobility of goods and services.

Current figures indicate that Chinese investments in countries are estimated at over $200 billion, while China’s trade with countries that fall in the corridors of BRI have registered growth figures at $6 trillion for years 2014-2019 while the trade between China and BRI countries was worth $6,975 billion.

China’s declaration during 2018 Beijing Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) where China announced that African countries are key partners in the project proves BRI’s Strategic Rationale which emphasizes that Belt and Road Initiative is meant to build a “community of Common Destiney for Mankind” and easy mobility as well as connectivity of the world.

China’s commitment to invest and support African countries investments in industrial capacity which resonates well with AU’s 2063 vision makes the project an opportunity for the continent to realise her vision. Indeed, 2019-2021 FACOC Beijing Action Plan aims at using industrial capacity cooperation mechanism to ensure both China and African countries realise their objectives. Consequently, BRI project will in the long run undoubtedly result into aiding African countries to develop in in aspects of technological advancements.

Though critics of Sino-Africa Relations claim that China’s development assistance is a debt trap and unfounded claims that China is is hiding ambitions of neo-colonialism Africa, or to seize the African Countries’ properties in instances African countries fail to pay back, these claims seem far-fetched and African countries should really deny ‘Sino-Africa Skepticism’ listening ears for this will slow down the much-needed development cooperation between China and African countries. There are more opportunities BRI project is bringing and African countries should focus more on seizing these opportunities.

According to African Development Bank (ADB), African countries are faced with shortfalls in infrastructural funding budgets. ADB adds that to meet their infrastructure needs that will allow African Countries sustain their growing population and replace their ageing infrastructure, African countries need between $130-170 billion annually. Therefore, African countries need allies who can help them raise such funding and Chinese efforts should be supported rather than attaching it with all negativities.

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

It is worth noting that talks of “debt trap” are unfounded and based on speculations rather than facts. A recent study by Rhodium Group; BRI project has the best agreements with all those assessed having provisions that China can renegotiate, forgive or write off debts on countries under BRI project opposed to ‘Sino-Africa Skepticism’ who claim China will seize such projects.

Indeed, there are facts centrally to claims of the so-called debt trap. In 2015, China wrote off $40 million loans to Zimbabwe, in 2018, China announced it hard forgiven Botswana a loan totalling to $7 million in 2019, Addis Ababa announced China had written their debt which was incurred in BRI project.

Allawi Ssemanda is a senior Research Fellow at DWC. The views expressed in the this article are his own and not necessarily those of DWC.

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.

 

Seven Years of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: How are Developing Countries Benefiting?

By Ssemanda Allawi.

In 2013 – seven years ago, Chinese president Xi Jinping gave a set of speeches where he announced the proposal of the now famous Belt Road Initiative (BRI). Xi delivered the first speech about BRI during his visit in Kazakhstan, elaborating his desire and vision of restoring the ancient silk road which offered routes from Peoples Republic of China, through Central Asia to the far Europe. In October, 2013 during his speech to Indonesian parliament, president Xi announced his maritime silk road concept to Indonesians to facilitate trade and ease movement of goods and services.

In the seven years of the project’s implementation, BRI has registered considerable achievements seeing over 29 International Organisations and over 71 countries sign or joining it. This means that more than a third of global GDP and more than two thirds of world’s population are part of the project!  This means that upon completion, the project will make the world’s largest market easy to access and traverse on both road and sea which are key in transportation and mobility of goods and services.

However, this is not without critics especially from some parts of western world with the U.S leading critics of the project with claims such as lack of transparency from Chinese authorities especially its financing while others branding the project is part of what they call China’s debt diplomacy.

However, research indicates that claims of lack of data on funding of the projects are largely wrong as a number of studies and research work  have given a clear view  of funding of this project.

Critics of China and BRI project in particular have often claimed the project is too expensive and will see developing countries fall in what they call China’s “debt diplomacy” with some western capitals branding the project Beijing’s debt trap. Many of critics have always cited Sri Lanka’s Hambantota which was leased to a Chinese firm for 99 years to help repay the country’s debts. The claims that Hambantota port was seized by China are also ambiguous considering the current state of the port if compared to how its state before the Chinese firm invested in it.

Washington has also been very critical of BRI project and generally China’s funding of infrastructure development in different parts of the world claiming that many of Beijing’s clients are  pariah states

However, some of these claims seem to be political with Washington screed of China’s growing relations with the rest of the world which they see as one way of antagonising U.S’ strategic interests. A case in point is citing Beijing’s growing relations with African state of Djibouti. In 2018, U.S’ top military commander in Africa, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser told U.S’ House Armed Services Committee that China’s state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings owning shares in Djibouti’s meant that U.S military could face “significant” consequences. Djibouti is one of many countries China considers part of its Belt Road Initiative.

In regard to Beijing’s infrastructure assistance going to undemocratic states, this is largely wrong. Most of Beijing’s borrowers are democracies with countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Brazil, Kenya, and Tanzania. Other democratic countries that that have benefited from China’s infrastructure loans include United Kingdom (UK). China is a major investor in UK’s Hinkley Point Nuclear power plant in Somerset.

Therefore, despite critics of BRI, it can be argued that the project so far is a success. Indeed, in 2019, a study by World Bank entitled; “Belt and Road Economics: Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors” analysed transportation projects along the BRI routes and concluded that benefits to recipient countries and the entire world would benefit from the project. In Kenya for example, as a result of Belt Road Initiative project, the country built a 470 km railway line from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa which shortened travel time from 10 hours to five, created over 46,000 jobs and helped the country’s GDP by 1.5%.

Despite the study reporting more cases of policy impediments than infrastructure impediments – such as customs delays, bureaucracy, red tape, imports tariffs and corruption which increase trade costs, the study is a proof that BRI will play a significant role toward both social and economic development of the world.

From the above and findings of this study, it is evident that improving investment climate is a key complementary when it comes to supporting and investing in infrastructure sector. This can be realised through deep trade agreements such as the proposed Africa Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA). On Global scale, agreements such as BRI, AfCFTA and the recently reached trade liberalisation agreement between China and ASEAN, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and Japan can help to eliminate tariffs which sometimes are barriers of trade.

Therefore, critics of infrastructure development should not look at infrastructural development in lenses of competition but rather putting in place facilities to aid trade. In particular, those criticising BRI branding the project a debt trap or debt diplomacy should reconsider their exaggerated claims. For example, countries that do borrow funds from China have also on many occasions borrowed from the so-called traditional donors or World Bank, IMF as well as other private bond holders. This means these countries diversify their sources of finances and thinking that they are beholden to China is ignoring key and glaring facts.

However, whereas it is very hard to present facts of the so-called debt diplomacy, there are genuine concerns when it comes to debt sustainability especially to African countries. However, these concerns should not only be tied to borrowing from China but rather all relevant lenders. This is because, unlike domestic debt, foreign debt has to be serviced using exports and this way, there are clear limits that point at how much borrowing developing or poor countries may take and continue to thrive.

In addition, the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on global economies feared to cause recession has should serve as a warning that many developing countries may find it hard to sustain their debts. Almost all countries that were projected to continue with a positive economic growth curve before covid-19 now are IMF analysis shows these countries projections were negatively impacted by covid-19 which has caused negative impact on countries exports and affected their GDP growth and hence, raising questions if these countries can sustain their debts. Indeed, many of China’s clients in Africa are in debt distress.

Early this year, China joined G20 in offering developing countries debt relief as a way of helping countries affected by Covid-19 pandemic recover. Among countries to benefit from this plan include 40 from sub-Saharan region. Despite this effort, debt moratorium alone may not be a magic bullet for Africa and other developing countries. Debt restructuring or write-downs. The challenge is that such arrangements often are done through the Paris Club of which China is not a member. However, if China wants to write-down debts on some African countries and developing countries in general, it can since it has done it before

On the other hand, the US announced a new development finance institution, also known as U.S. Development Finance Corporation (USDFC) to compete with China in offering infrastructure funding to development countries.  Though this is a positive development, this initiate alone will not bring swiping changes. Most of developing countries prefer to use Chinese funding when it comes to infrastructure funding. Though they may look generous, traditional funders and their multinational banks prefer to fund sectors such as administration, social services and the so-called democracy promotion instead of funding the much-needed infrastructure programs. For example, at first 70% of World Bank’s funding went to infrastructure but has been reducing to recently 30% despite huge funding gaps in infrastructure sectors in developing countries.

It is important to note that developing countries are still faced with shortage of funding especially in infrastructure projects which are key for development. A study by World Bank and McKinsey Global Institute found that funding for infrastructure projects such as transport and electricity is lacking, noting that to ensure a socially inclusive development by 2030, there is need to spend more than $3.3 trillions annually of which 60% of this must go to developing countries in Africa. African Development Bank (ADB) on the other hand estimates that to meet demands of their growing population, replace aging infrastructure, African countries must spend between $130-$170 billion annually on infrastructure. Also, a 2017 study by World Bank “Why We Ned to Close the Infrastructure Gap in Sub-Saharan Africa” suggested that if these countries reduce funding gaps for infrastructure, the region’s GDP per capital will grow by 1.7% and hence. All the above shows that any infrastructure assistance to developing countries should not be underestimated and hence, the view that BRI project is a positive initiate for developing countries world over.

In conclusion therefore, as studies have indicated, BRI project has more benefits if compared with challenges it may bring. Instead of critiquing the project largely to Geo and Global politics, China’s critics especially the U.S should back the project and where possible embrace and support new trade agreements such as AfCFTA to improve trade and investment climate in developing countries than only negatively criticising funders that fund developing countries projects. Also, the U.S may champion calls to reform the The Bretton Woods institutions and offer attractive alternative funding to developing countries, reduce their anti-China rhetoric and instead participate with China whenever there are efforts to offer debt relief.

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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