The Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has discounted fears or assertions that China’s aggressive investment in Africa is a new strategy to colonialize Africa.
Supporting his comments with a report by Mckinsey, the Vice President pointed out that, “Findings are contrary to the view out there that China’s push into Africa reflects a new form of colonialism – driven by the Chinese State, using Chinese workers, focusing on extracting resources and flooding Africa with cheap imports. The point to be made is that China’s push is based on their vision, on their strategy “Going Global”, and the discipline and determination to execute their plan”.
The McKinsey report “Dance of the Lions and Dragons: How are Africa and China engaging” released in June 2017, makes a number of interesting observations.
According to the report, in the last two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner.
It states that across 5 critical areas of trade, stock of FDI, growth in FDI, infrastructure financing and in the provision of aid, China is the only country that is found consistently in the top five of all countries engaging with Africa.
The report further indicated that China is not just Africa’s biggest economic partner at the state-to-state engagement, but of the 10,000 plus Chinese firms operating in Africa, about 90% are privately owned; the Africa-China engagement has also translated into increasing manufacturing capacity and the creation of thousands of jobs, with about 89% of their staff being Africans.
Speaking on the topic, “Ghana’s role in industrialization and infrastructural development in the ECOWAS region”, the Vice President pointed out that instead of being cynical and hesitant, African countries, and business people, must strategically make bold decisions about the “Africa We Want” and take the bold steps that place them in a position to maximize their share of the projected China-Africa business revenue of US$440 Billion by 2025.
“Our ability to benefit from our relationship with China, and for that matter with any partner country, depends as much on our own vision, the strategy to get to where we want to be, and on our discipline to execute our chosen development trajectory. No country can be responsible for our long-term growth and development in ways that benefit our citizens. We are solely responsible.
For us, clearly therefore, in speaking about Africa-Sino relationships, it is important that we state our vision, “The Ghana We Want”, and focus on how we can leverage our human and natural resources in tapping into the opportunities this engagement presents,” he advocated.
His Excellency Dr. Mahamudu Bawamia, stated that under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana is strategically pursuing plans to take advantage of the opportunities in making Ghana the Financial, Transportation (especially Aviation) hub for the West Africa region that will support an Industrial hub for the region.
“To do this, we are implementing an Integrated Infrastructure Development Programme (IIDP) strategy that will direct investments into a modern road network, aviation, ICT, sea and inland ports, bridges, harbours, and railways. The IIDP will open up the economy and unlock the economic potential of our vast mineral resources, agricultural potential, as well as other natural resources to power our industrial growth, while leveraging same to attract intra-Community investments.
We are also pursuing a broad-based and shared growth agenda through the District Industrialization (One District, One Factory) Programme by providing incentives to private sector investors to establish viable businesses at the District level. This is designed to ensure an even, spatial spread of industries across the country, create local jobs and boost local economic growth, and reduce poverty,” he disclosed.
The role of China in financing, and executing infrastructure projects, as well as establishing manufacturing plants in Ghana has been growing over the years. As at the end of March 2017, infrastructure financing from China at the governmental level stood at about US$2.2 Billion. This covers projects in gas processing, power generation, water, and ICT, among others. On grants, the National Theater stands as an example.
The Vice President was speaking at the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Programme under the theme, “Building Resilient Industries and Infrastructure for Economic Transformation in Africa: The Role of China”.
According to the Institute For Democratic Governance (IDEG), one of the leading policy think tanks in Ghana, the objectives for this two-day programme, which are consistent with Ghana’s 40-year Long Term National Development Plan, are to provide a platform for Ghana to re-examine its capacity to transform its economy through infrastructural development and industrialization and project accordingly with the new political dispensation; provide the platform for China to share experiences on how they have transformed peasant economies through rural infrastructural development and the creation of rural industries; and draw lessons from case studies of African economies that have learnt from and benefited from the Chinese experience and with some support from China.
Participants of the seminar drawn from within and outside Ghana, include: Government, the Private Sector, and Civil Society, Angola, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).