Give China a chance: Part Three…as African projects grow regionally


IN the last article, we looked at some of the Chinese associated large scale projects taking place in southern African nations like South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.
In this article, we shall look at the developmental activities of the Chinese in sub-Saharan countries further north.
In the DRC, the Chinese play a very important role in terms of development.
The DRC is a nation that has been, time and again, exploited and abused by the West for its mineral resources, such as diamonds.
The threats of regime change, even militarily, have been imminent since independence was granted to her.
This independence from French-speaking Belgium was intended to be ceremonial with the leadership remaining subservient to colonial interests and benefits.
For this reason, political and social instability has hindered the nation’s development.
The West made itself a known enemy in the DRC in 1961 by plotting and carrying out the deposing of Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister, killing him in cold blood and replacing him with Mobutu Sese Seko.
The Belgians, French and Americans looted the nation’s wealth throughout the time of Mobutu Sese Seko without concerning themselves with developing the host nation.
When Mobutu Sese Seko was finally removed from power, the West again assumed a vicious stance against the DRC.
They armed the rebels from Rwanda and indirectly waged war against the Laurent Kabila Government by funding the rebels and providing them with intelligence.
This was as recent as 1998 and Zimbabwe is hated for intervening on the side of the DRC and saving her from Western-backed insurrection.
Thus DRC was known for having poor roads and infrastructure.
China is an honest technical and trade partner for DRC — one without a bad history and a conflict of interest such as the colonials.
In November 2007, a deal was signed between China and the DRC.
It was funded by the China Exim Bank and is worth US$6 billion.
It involves developing mining in Mashamba, Dima and Kolwezi.
The DRC agreed to pay the loan back by way of allowing some stipulated Chinese mining companies to mine approximately 10,6 million tonnes worth of copper in the DRC.
Besides this, the roads and infrastructure in the DRC are improving and it is largely thanks to the new partnership they have with China.
In Tanzania, the Government struck a US$7 billion deal with China.
It is funded by China Merchant Holdings International and State Government Reserve of the Oman Government.
A large port was built in the coastal city of Bagamoyo, beginning in October 2015.
It is the largest port on the East African coastline and has the capacity to accommodate over 20 million large containers annually.
In neighbouring Kenya, the Government embarked on its largest infrastructural project since independence by partnering with China to construct a standard gauge railway line worth US$3,8 billion.
China Exim Bank funded 85 percent of the project, amounting to almost US$3,6 billion.
Construction began in October 2013 and the railway network is to cover 609 km.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed this December.
This involves connecting the capital city of Nairobi with the port city Mombasa.
The ultimate goal of the project is to ease the transportation of goods and passengers from the coast to the hinterland and the cities in between.
This will eventually join together with a modern standard gauge rail line that will link Kenya to its neighbours; Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The Sudanese Government signed a US$1,3 billion contract with two Chinese companies namely; China Railway Engineering Group Company and China Railway Erju Company.
The Chinese Government funded the project by way of a loan to the Sudanese Government.
The project began in 2007 and involved setting up a modern rail network of 762 km connecting Port Sudan with Khartoum, the nation’s capital city.
This project was completed in 2012.
Sudan is bordered by Chad to the west.
In March 2014, the Government of Chad signed a US$5,6 billion deal with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to construct a railway line that links it with Sudan.
This railway line is of modern standards and, upon completion, will link Chad and Sudan to Cameroon.
The project will be done in three phases and the line will stretch for approximately 1 344 km.
Most of the funding, amounting to US$2 billion, was provided by China Export Import Bank.
The rest was funded by Chinese loans from government and the construction began in October of 2014.
Evidently, many of the projects begin on a national level but become interregional.
African governments seem to want to complement the infrastructural developments rather than challenge them.
Unlike Zimbabwe, they do not want to miss out.
The resultant interregional deals are solid in that the governments of all parties involved are co-operating with the Chinese Government in sourcing loans, technology and services from reputable and government-endorsed Chinese companies.
This guarantees they do not get swindled by unscrupulous companies.
Such development, which is necessity-driven, is different from that of former colonisers who would but dictate their will and carry it out at the expense of the locals and without even seeking their approval.
For example, the Kariba Dam construction which changed the lives of the inhabitants of the land that was made into a dam forever.
Besides Ethiopia which we shall look at in case study style in the next article, we have looked at some of the large scale projects the Chinese are bankrolling in the east of sub-Saharan Africa.
It seems as though China has been embraced largely by former English colonies, more than by the former French, German or Spanish ones like Senegal, Namibia and Guinea Bissau respectively.
Could it be the oppressive past of the British empire which is making these nations prefer the Chinese in terms of trade and development partnerships.
The truth is that all colonial regimes were oppressive to the indigenous people, but the French retained a firmer hold on their former colonies after independence more than the British.
Thus, West Africa, which is mostly French-speaking, is still subtly colonised and their governments work only with French approval.
This, therefore, hinders them from partnering nations like China at the expense of their economies.
Nigeria, which is one of the few English colonies in West Africa, has made, arguably, the biggest construction deal in Africa with China.
It is a US$12 billion deal signed between the Nigerian Government and China Railway Corporation.
The deal was struck at the close of 2014 and construction began in 2015.
Upon completion, the railway line will link Lagos with the eastern city of Calabar.
The line will stretch for approximately 1 402 km and pass through 10 states.
The cities in question will be linked with the Niger Delta area which is of national and strategic importance because of the rich oil reserves found there.
The final destination of Calabar borders Cameroon which, if bold enough to disregard France’s disdain of China, will contract the Chinese to extend the new line from Chad to Nigeria.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here