Monday, June 27, 2011

The Chinese are coming!

Yesterday sunday evening I watched an insightful BBC documentary on China's rising interests in Africa. The reporter takes us on an intimate trip through Zambia,Tanzania and Congo DRC to see first-hand China's budgeoning interests in Africa.
From a large-scale chicken farmer in Zambia to a large scale mining concession in DRC Congo, Chinese businesses are becoming new economic players in Africa.
China's interests are driven by an insastiable apetite for raw materials for their industrial machine that has been described as 'super market to the world'.
China's interests in Africa provide a new lease of life economically to many destitute African countries which cant seem to refuse the irresistible Chinese offers.
In Zambia, the copper mines had been closed until the Chinese came calling. In DRC Congo, the mines were there for locals to exploit using stone-age era mining implements.
Clearly, China is giving a new lease of life to poor African countries. But it has not come without a price. The Chinese are not missionaries in Africa. Their interests are pragmatic. They need raw materials and markets for their products and alternatives for their billion-strong population.
There have been reports of human rights abuses at Chinese factories. There has been an influx of Chinese entreprenuers at scale that is attracting the ire of many small scale Zambian chicken farmers. Do the Chinese have to compete at this level as well in Africa?
The irony is not lost on a History major here. China a country branded as communist is beating the capitalists at their own game. It has outcompeted european industry on cost and now the small scale African trader is next.

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