Friday, November 9, 2007

Big question III: Do the Chinese and Indians get Africa better than others?

Yes, says Jonathon Power

As Chinese — and Indian — investors almost pour into Africa one wonders if their European and North American competitors have woken up to the fact that Rip Van Winkle is waking up in Africa? The fact that a top Chinese banker brackets Africa with Asia is one more sign that the Asians themselves see what is happening in Africa, a repeat of what happened to them twenty and thirty years ago. They can see the potential while western commentators, their spurious words tasting of sour grapes, point an accusing finger at China in particular, accusing it of planning to rape Africa as the Europeans did a 100 years ago.

This is not rape, by any stretch of the imagination. This is business opportunities. Africa in many countries is on the way to booming and Africa is looking for marriages of convenience with willing investors in railroads, toll roads, ports, motorbike and cement factories. Already there are over 900 Chinese companies working in Africa.

[D]espite the promise to double aid at the Gleneagles' G8 summit held in 2005 they are not getting anything like it, although the increasing role of private global funds, like the Gates' Foundation, is plugging some of the gap. Perhaps this has something to do with the western mindset — Africa is a war-torn, aid-wasting continent. But most of it is no longer. Ask the Chinese and Indians.

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