African leaders attending the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing this week endured ridicule both in the West and, sadly, on African soil.
Portrayed as beggars and poor negotiators with average intellect, African leaders’ presence in China, where they discussed critical issues of development and solutions thereto, suffered verbal attacks.
From Cape to Cairo, thunders of ridicule were heard as Africans of low self-esteem, whose opinion must emulate of those of critics in New York of Paris to appear enlightened, led the castigation of their own leaders’ participation in FOCAC.
Without a shred of evidence regarding what was agreed and how any collaboration were to benefit both China and individual African countries, armchair critics, in their typical fashion, came out guns blazing against their own continent’s attempt for emancipation.
African leaders are often painted as passive negotiators who negotiate bad deals with China, but such criticism is never levelled against any other nation doing business with Africa, especially if such nation is geographically located in the global west.
France’s firm grip on her former African colonies’ military and currencies does not enjoy the same attention by critics of China’s relation with Africa.
Imagine the hullabaloo if the Commonwealth, as voluntary as it may be, was a Chinese formation with headquarters in Shanghai and not London? We would not hear the end of the ‘Chinese invasion of Africa’ chorus.
Venting aside, China closes a massive infrastructure gap in Africa. The domination of China of the African infrastructure development turf is working favourably for a continent desperately gasping for development oxygen.
It is anticipated that by 2025, China will have provided African countries with about US$1 trillion in development financing including direct investment, soft and concessional loans. This is welcome, as long as this exchange is 100 percent win-win.
In Namibia, for example, FOCAC served as a platform to seal financing of the Hosea Kutako International Airport, whose deplorable state has reached the ears of international regulatory bodies that are now threatening to withdraw the airport’s operating licence due to safety concerns.
The thought alone of such an action, which would adversely affect our tourism and dwarf our investment opportunities, is as scary as the horror movie ‘Eyes Without a Face’ from 1960.
Nation to nation relations between China and Africa must be managed in a manner that does not disadvantage either party. There is no evidence indicating this was not the case at this week’s FOCAC Summit, so we ask: why the aspersions?
After all, it is not Africa’s expectation that at this stage of our life as a continent we should be receiving free money from China or indeed anyone. Any free money would anyway come with ‘strings attached’, conditions that Chinese President Xi Jinping said would not be attached to his country’s aid of Africa.
The striking irony is that the very West that often castigates China’s dealings with Africa was responsible for classifying poor countries such as Namibia as upper-middle income countries, which takes away preferential treatment that the country would have enjoyed when borrowing.
The World Bank’s classification of Namibia means borrowing would be treated at competitive commercial terms, which a country like ours cannot afford. Namibia’s classification as an upper middle income country is partially to blame for the accumulation of current public debt of 43.3 percent, as the country lost borrowing privileges accorded to low income countries.
Namibia and her peers that find themselves in this predicament thus have no choice but to ‘look East’ for their survival and existence as sovereign states.
2018-09-07 10:25:09 11 days ago