By Jamal Boubakri
By Jamal Boubakri
Morocco World News
Washington D.C., October 21, 2012
China became Africa’s largest trading partner after surpassing the United States at the end of 2009. Chinese foreign direct investment in countries across Africa had skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion last year. Moreover, China’s foreign aid to Africa has grown rapidly as Chinese officials recently pledged more than $20 billion to boost African economies.
Also, trade between China and Africa was at $160 billion in 2011, compared to just $10 billion a decade ago. This shows how China is focusing on this resource-rich continent as a source of raw materials for its growing economy. China’s top African trading partners are: Angola, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, and Egypt.
In his speech at the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Chinese Premier, Hu Jintao, explains the growing interest in Africa by saying: “China and Africa, together with over one third of the world’s population, are an important force for advancing world peace and development. China and Africa share a common destiny, and China-Africa friendship is cherished by the Chinese and African peoples.”
To encourage more economic growth, Chinese officials are trying to find more partners around the world, especially in emerging markets. Africa, with its growing population (60% of which is less than 24 years old), natural resources and a growing middle class is an attractive market to China and the west.
The United States and China are competing for sustainable partnerships with African countries. In fact, US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, during her recent visit to Africa, gave a speech in Zambia warning of a “new colonialism” threatening the African continent. She mentioned that African countries should consider partnerships with more responsible countries. Her visit to Africa was seen as a move to counter Chinese influence.
On one hand, it’s clear that China’s partnership with Africa is a huge benefit for a continent seeking rapid economic growth through direct foreign investment and job creation. On the other hand, China’s increasing economic presence in Africa translates into greater geopolitical influence.