News / Africa

Increased China-Africa Trade Raises Questions

A Chinese salesman sells consumer goods in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
A Chinese salesman sells consumer goods in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Nico Colombant

Growing trade between China and Africa is raising new questions, analysts say, about economic competition and opportunity on the continent.  According to the African Development Bank, China-Africa commerce comprises more than 10 percent of Africa's overall trade.

A recent report by the African Development Bank says African trade with China has steadily grown, while the continent's imports and exports with other markets have mostly declined.

The bank's research director, Leonce Ndikumana, says this was particularly important during the latest economic downturn in the United States and Europe.  

"What we have seen is that when there is a shock to the economies in these regions, Africa gets hit straight in its face," said Ndikumana.  "And diversifying the destination of its exports and the origin of its foreign capital inflows is a good thing for African countries."

China imports mainly oil and other natural resources from Africa, while the continent buys equipment, machinery and inexpensive consumer goods from China.

Some economists are worried that such trade could stifle the development of manufacturing sectors in Africa, while also increasing what often is called the resource curse.  The phrase refers to the paradox that many African regions have highly sought after natural resources, but often experience repeated political violence and extreme poverty.

The senior policy manager for extractive industries at Oxfam America, Ian Gary, says he hopes Chinese companies are aware of the problem.

"Whether you are a Chinese company or a Western company, as we have seen in places like the Niger Delta, you will come into problems with local grievances, conflicts with local communities," said Gary.  "And so I think you will see that Chinese companies will have the same type of learning curve and hopefully will more quickly look at ways that they can support an environment that leads to sustainable development."

But the research director at the African Development Bank, Leonce Ndikumana, says Chinese companies have been more inclined than Western firms to invest in infrastructure such as roads and stadiums in recent years.

He says whatever the challenges, China's interests in Africa will benefit Africans.

"The only way African countries can reduce poverty is by increasing growth and sustaining growth," said Ndikumana.  "So to the extent that the increased trade with China and the increased investment from China to Africa is contributing to growth, this is good news for African countries."



But Oxfam America's Ian Gary points out that Chinese companies receive help from their government to win contracts in Africa.

"Chinese companies are often closely tied to the government and can look at sort of packaged deals and incentives, for example, infrastructure for resource type swaps and other types of incentives, that are not on the table for many of the Western companies," noted Gary.

Other economists say they hope Chinese investors will partner with African entrepreneurs to grow their countries' economies in ways that will benefit more people.  They also say they would like to see Africa expand its economic ties with other parts of the world.

Other countries showing increased interest in Africa include Brazil and South Korea.  Non-oil sectors that are attracting more attention from foreign businesses include agriculture and customer services.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More