China: a strategic partner of Africa
Editor's Note: The author is Executive Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad and Regional Expert on China, BRI & CPEC. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
It is a good omen for the further economic development and social growth of the African continent that China has very quickly emerged as a key player in the African region. Now the Chinese BRI, Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilizational Initiative have become real growth engines for the uplifting of the African continent, countries, and communities from extreme poverty.
In this regard, China has been operating on its policy of "shared prosperity" which has multiplier socio-economic dividends, and with that, it has been investing significantly in Africa. The Chinese investment has not been the impetus for major infrastructural development but has also uplifted the lives of the locals.
The strategic role of China in Africa is also reconfirmed by the new Africa's Dynamic Development Report, jointly published by African Union and OECD, which vividly reflects that Chinese foreign direct investment(FDI) exceeded $10 billion from 2017-2022. Much of this FDI has come under the flagship of BRI which has expedited the continent's economic and infrastructure development.
It seems that Chinese investments have become a blessing and effective instrument to overcome all social, economic, and physical barriers to achieve prosperity. It is evident that Africa has been revolutionized by investments. China has helped build over 6000 km of railway and roads and over 20 ports in the last decade under BRI.
It not only has improved the quality of life of the local people but has also created thousands of jobs that have acted as an impetus towards uplifting local economies. Moreover, smooth functioning infrastructure has led to increased productivity in agriculture and industrial sectors which is evident in the case of Ethiopia and many other African countries as Chinese investment has helped it achieve an annual growth of 10 percent and elevated thousands from poverty.
Furthermore, there are hundreds of Chinese enterprises that are operating in Africa and are acting as a new force for China's investment in Africa. The Chinese companies are helping African nations build renewable energy projects which have changed the energy dynamics of the region. The inauguration of the first photovoltaic power station in the Central African Republic contributed to alleviating the power supply and resolving the energy crisis of the country and promoting economic development.
Chinese investment is helping the continent use its natural resources. By improving infrastructure and causing industrial development, Chinese investment has provided opportunities to use the minerals. The Chinese FDI has also been propelling African nations forward in the global trade market. In the last few years, 25 new special economic zones have been created in Africa which are open to both local and foreign investors, and have brought in around $ 7.5 billion in Africa. This has helped in reducing poverty in the continent.
The Chinese enterprises have been instrumental in the "mobile revolution" of Africa. The Chinese cell phone Huawei has penetrated every corner of the continent. They have also opened up training centers and R&D facilities for the locals which have helped unlock major economic and innovation potential in the continent.
Furthermore, China has also been one of the biggest trading partners of Africa, contributing to its economic growth and development of trade ties. The trade volume between China and Africa surged by 14.5 percent in 2022 to almost $266.3 billion. These trade ties have helped Africa become self-reliant and contribute to sustainable development.