OPINION: Why India, not China, is a better investment partner for Africa
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Did you read the story on Chinese investment in Africa? They’re being published in droves, usually with a vaguely racist headline, like “Booming African lion economies gear up to emulate Asians.” Their texts inevitably frame African nations as witless newcomers to the global market, their leaders sitting obliviously atop mountains of untapped natural resources. China, meanwhile, is caricatured as a predatory swindler, bent on becoming an eastern superpower, while also cashing in on a growing global consumer class hungry for smartphone processors and tablet screens, and therefore the African minerals that facilitate them.
While the framing of these stories is often regrettable, the facts are the facts: China is indeed an active investor in African economies. A report from Brookings calculated that, of the ¥256.29 billion ($41.85 billion) Beijing gave in foreign aid by the end of 2009, 45.7% went to Africa. China is also the continent’s largest trading partner. Last year, The Economist reported that roughly $200 billion worth of goods were exchanged between the two in 2013 alone, and that a commodities boom in China has helped Africa’s cumulative GDP grow 5.5% annually in the last ten years.