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Beijing, a Boon for Africa - NYTimes.com

Beijing, a Boon for Africa – NYTimes.com.

In 2009, China became Africa’s single largest trading partner, surpassing the United States. And China’s foreign direct investment in Africa has skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2011.

To meet the demands of its rising middle class, and to keep economic growth high enough to provide plentiful jobs, China needs resources, land, and oil.  And Africa is willing to supply them.  Is this the next colonization of Africa?  Not necessarily:

China’s role is broadly welcomed across the continent. A 2007 Pew Research Center survey of 10 sub-Saharan African countries found that Africans overwhelmingly viewed Chinese economic growth as beneficial.

There are new jobs in many African nations as a result of this foreign investment, but there are also labor and human rights abuses.  According to the editorial, written by a Zambian,

the onus of policing social policy and protecting the environment is on local governments, and it is local policy makers who should ultimately be held accountable and responsible if and when egregious failures occur.

But if local politicians are getting paid to look the other way, they won’t report violations.  The writer does point out the need for investment in Africa –

With approximately 60 percent of Africa’s population under age 24, foreign investment and job creation are the only forces that can reduce poverty and stave off the sort of political upheaval that has swept the Arab world.

How will China’s investment, monetarily and politically, pay off for both China and African nations?  How will the movement of Chinese workers to Africa affect the demographics of the African workforce?  Will the Chinese be willing to teach native Africans the skills needed for many of the new jobs?  Will they invest in infrastructure other than that needed to remove the raw materials?  How is their investment different than that of the Europeans in earlier times?

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