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Real reason China is building infrastructure in Africa


Asian power’s Belt and Road initiative has a broader goal than giving aid

China has recently come to the fore as a leading infrastructure support partner for many an African nation. But is this an innocent foray? Tasie Theodore investigates.

From Nigeria to Kenya, Zambia to Ethiopia, Chinese money, firms and citizens are all over the African continent.

While some see them as providing some much needed development support and aid particularly on the infrastructure flank, the deeper reality may however be that even more complex and grander ambitions are at play.

Some of this sentiment spilled out this week as one of the preparatory meetings ahead of its hosting the second edition of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum later this year kicked off. Beyond providing random and isolated aid to nations in need of development, China’s grand vision is to deliberately ‘link the country by sea and land through an infrastructure network with Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.’

Pushing the point at the session, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang affirmed that there was more than enough commitment to push the initiative through.

“As a way of opening up China to our international friends, as a government we will seek cooperation between China’s development plans and those of other countries along the BRI routes,” Li outlined.

The occasion had in attendance some 3,000 delegates who were taking part in the 13th National Peoples’ Congress, a major annual parliamentary meeting, which runs from March 5 to 15.

“We will increase communication and cooperation and forge broad census, and arrange national committee members to conduct research on boosting cooperation on innovation under the Belt and Road Initiative and on issues concerning the recruitment of overseas talents,” Li also informed the reviewing leaders.

The project, which is also referred to as the Silk Road Economic Belt was launched by President Xi in 2013 and sets out to strengthen Chinese global dominance through a more than $1 trillion investment in infrastructure.

In Africa, some of the principal focus points at the moment are transport and energy projects in Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia.

Critics of the scheme have dubbed it a neo-colonialist agenda.

President Xi Jinping of China

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