An opinion piece titled “How China is outpacing the US in Africa” published by Gulf News on November 29 shows that as a giant economy and global superpower, China has a solid footprint all over Africa.
The author, Ashok Swain, is a professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University, Sweden. He says that China has not only become a key trading power in Africa, but it has also become a contractor, a financier, a service provider, a donor, and an investor.
According to the author, China is already the fourth-largest investor in Africa after the Netherlands, the UK, and France, and it has moved ahead of the US since 2014.
Swain said that Africa’s trade with China is also growing at an equally phenomenal speed. “In the 1980s, trade between China and Africa only totaled $12 million per year, but by 2021, it reached $254 billion. Compared to it, the US-Africa trade was only $64.3 billion last year.”
The author believes that investment from China supports the long-term potential for the development of African economies and Beijing’s official development assistance is explicitly non-prescriptive and has no strings attached.
“China’s increasing presence in Africa has also made other emerging economies take an active interest in the African continent. Its engagement across the continent is helping to create local jobs,” the author said.
Swain said that Chinese investments have provided African countries with modern know-how and technology. Chinese investments in African infrastructure have enhanced the overall productive capacity of African economies.
When talking about the US’ presence in Africa, Swain wrote ”Instead of blaming China, the US should work toward getting more economically engaged in Africa.”
Swain said that the gradual economic withdrawal by the US from Africa is harming America’s financial and strategic interests, and Africa has enough opportunities for both -- the US and China.
In August 2022, the White House introduced a policy document to reframe Africa’s importance to US national security interests. “Time will tell if the US will be successful in re-engaging in Africa or not, but the outcome of it will be crucial for the US to maintain its dominant global superpower status vis-à-vis China.”