Africa should demand more from China

With an ever growing appetite for raw materials and energy resources, Africa should demand more in return for feeding China’s  economic growth.

African states should harness Chinese interest as Beijing’s demand for commodities drives growth on the continent and fuels capital investments, an energy conference heard on Tuesday.

China’s investment model in Africa, characterised by long-term capital concessional financing, was a developmental “no-brainer,” Martyn Davies, head of the Frontier Advisory firm, told the Oil and Gas Africa expo.

“It’s very strategic and it’s very long-term. The model works provided the extraction continues to take place and the oil continues to flow,” he told conference delegates.

Africa and China, which imports a quarter of its oil from the continent, had shown parallel growth patterns since 2000 as energy-hungry Beijing went in search of new oil sources beyond traditional markets, said Davies.

Africa needs to create the best enabling environment. China’s interest in Africa is ours to lose,” he told AFP on the sidelines of the conference.

“China’s commodity demand is underpinning Africa’s growth performance. As trade supply links become more entrenched, a component of China’s growth depends on Africa’s ability to supply,” he said.

China’s building up of trade and economic ties with Africa has drawn accusations that the country has taken a “neo-colonialist” attitude toward the continent.

Beijing also has been criticised for befriending pariah regimes in Sudan and Zimbabwe in a cynical bid to lock up supplies of resources needed to fuel expansion of its economy, the world’s third largest.

A range of African countries are in a position of strength given that the Chinese are willing to pay top dollar and outbid many western nations for resources. Government accountability and transparency should be the top concerns for whatever nation is dealing with Beijing. Just take at look at the growing scandal in Namibia and President Hu’s son.

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