Helping Africa overcome poverty has been one of the West’s longtime causes. But despite gobs of attention, money, and concerts from Paul Simon, Bono, Jeffrey Sachs, not to mention, the UN and all the various governments, very little has been accomplished.
Africa’s failure to emerge economically, despite so much help, has been a grave disappointment and embarrassment.
But all that’s about to change. Not, not because the benefit concerts are going to work this time, but because for the first time, an outside player is eager to see Africa as an economic partner — not just a charity case.
Not surprisingly, that player is China, and they’re motivated by Africa’s abundant natural resources.
Asia Times: China, which pledged this week to offer full assistance to Africa in agriculture and infrastructure, hard on the heels of a decision to extend US$10 billion over the next three years in concessional loans to the continent’s countries, has garnered applause for its no-strings-attached foreign aid.
At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in the Egyptian resort of Sham el-Sheikh, Beijing’s approach was held as an example for development worth emulating by countries around the world.
Brushing off accusations that its investment is denuding Africa of precious natural resources, China has pledged “going all-out” to help African countries overcome poverty and fight new threats like climate change.
“China has been able to develop its economy without plundering other countries, and the Chinese economic miracle is indeed a source of pride and inspiration,” Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe told the forum. Beijing’s engagement with the continent was a model the rest of the world should adopt, he said. Read the whole thing >
Now, granted, China’s ambitions are still being couched in some of the traditional western language about “aid” and whatnot. And the country is eager to say that it’s not solely interested in resources. But it is, and it’s a good thing.
The West has never really seen Africa as an economic partner. It’s too unstable and unskilled to be a source of cheap manufacturing, so that went to Asia. And theoretically we might have seen Africa as a source of resources, but then, that would would have required us to actually think long term about where we get our commodities. So you can see why that never happened.
It won’t happen over night, or even over a decade. But a fruitful business relationship with China will truly spur a leap forward by various African economies.
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