October 2021 \ World News \ China and East Africa
China's Presence in East Africa Getting Questioned

By Sumit Kumar Singh

China’s deep influence in East Africa, comprising 13 countries, through its economic presence in the region is getting questioned for debt traps and duplicity, top sources said. Africa is one of the fastest urbanising continents with pace of migration to urban centres faster than India and China. By 2034, Africa will have the world’s largest working age population. It has at least 46 percent of the world’s supply of manganese, and 50 per cent of the world’s Cobalt reserves are estimated to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) alone.

Africa’s Coltan resources (short for columbite-tantalite) are also of significant interest to the world; as it is an integral mineral used in the production of electronics, including cell phones. The fastest growing sub region in the continent is East Africa which comprises 13 countries including several emerging economies such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Tanzania and Kenya. China has had long-standing relations with Africa, having slowly and steadily built up its strategic and economic presence over the years. “The absence of other major powers in the region, coupled with the internecine conflicts and political instability, has made East Africa a particularly favoured region for China to deepen its influence and establish a stronghold,” said a senior government officer.

Over the last two decades, China has established a significant economic presence, and its lucrative economic investment packages, flexible political approach and focused big-ticket development projects under Belt and Road Initiative ostensibly provides a massive opportunity to African countries.

“However, it is an open secret that many Belt and Road Initiative projects in Africa have been made through underhand dealings with unscrupulous elements who may have placed their personal profit above public interest,” the officer claimed. Unfettered by public opinion back home, China has always managed to establish relationships with governments which were actively ostracized by the West. Reportedly, “almost all projects in Africa have been concluded with opaque and dubious terms”.

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