An Aljazeera article titled, “King Cobra and the Dragon” asks, “As China increases its economic ties in Africa, has the continent entered a new era of colonialism?” The article builds on the common knowledge that the Chinese influence is rapidly increasing throughout Africa and looks specifically at Zambia as a case study. The author concludes that there are both costs and benefits from the Chinese investment. The Africans like the money the Chinese bring and appreciate their work ethic. However, they don’t appreciate other Chinese values. For example, the Chinese tend to skirt African laws when they are not convenient.
What motivates the Chinese to invest in Africa? Of course, there are the raw materials that China needs. However, most of the Chinese businessmen come to Africa because, “Africa … represent(s) a land of opportunity for the many Chinese struggling to fend for themselves in increasingly competitive domestic (Chinese) markets. In Africa, they were able to build businesses and a base on which to raise a family. Labor (is) cheap, markets (can) be dominated, and, for some, rules (can) be circumvented.”
Some Americans are also seeing this opportunity. For example, Carnegie Mellon University is opening a new graduate program in Rwanda this fall. Bruce Krogh, Director of Carnegie Mellon in Rwanda, said, “We see this as an opportunity to participate in probably the fastest growing component of the market for information and communication technology in the world right now.” (Article)
Africa is rising. Foundations are being laid. Are Christians influencing the business leaders and economic structures that will determine what Africa becomes during the next couple decades? Not fully. Currently we have an open door to teach character based leadership and enable the entrepreneurs who will become the real influencers and leaders in Africa’s bright future. Let’s not miss this opportunity!
I really saw this to be true the last time I was in Ethiopia. My wife and I were in Ethiopia in 2007 to complete an adoption and there wasn’t anything recognizably ‘from the efforts of the Chinese’. When we returned in 2011 to complete our 2nd adoption from Ethiopia, the fingerprints, buildings, people, etc. were very visibly from the work on the Chinese coming into Ethiopia. I was astounded by how much had changed in 4 years.