Chinese loans have created a debt trap in Africa, and China is leveraging on the debt trap to strategically penetrate Africa’s political landscape say some scholars, according to an Online research paper, IJSER.
China has so far committed more than USD 153 billion to African public sector borrowers between 2000 and 2019, according to SAIS-CARI researchers. This is likely going to continue to drive debt on the continent.
For more than 32 African countries, China is a major lender today. They include Angola (USD 21.5 billion), Zambia (11.2 bn), Ethiopia (13.7 billion), Kenya (9.8 billion), Republic of Congo (7.42 billion), and Cameroon (5.57 billion).
Soaring debt has the ability to compromise the sovereignty of African states, owing to the complexity of corruption and frequent political instability in the continent, IJSER reported.
Scholars argue that even the “aid” that China offers to promote education in Africa has severe colonial implications. For example, the thousands of scholarships that China offers to African students to study in various Chinese universities are aimed at shaping and cultivating Africa’s next generation of leaders to remain loyal to future Chinese policies toward Africa, says despatch on Beijing News Net (BNN).
Another flipside is the perception that Chinese loans to Africa primarily provide business and employment opportunities for Chinese workers and contractors. This is because China often imposes most of the loans on infrastructure development in Africa.
The imposition is always in favour of Chinese companies which are mostly ‘state-owned enterprises’, in order to boost “China’s Going Out strategy” which maintains Chinese companies as contractors of various projects that are financed by Chinese loans, reported IJSER.
The companies, therefore, create employment opportunities for Chinese citizens in Africa. This in turn deprives the Africans of skill acquisition that new age jobs demand.
China is not a Good Samaritan in Africa, as Beijing asserts repeatedly. It is in Africa primarily to secure local natural resources, and for this it is exploiting the soft underbelly of African nations, namely their low credit rating. And as unsustainable debt gets piled up, China is furthering its geopolitical control over the continent. This is no more than a modern form of colonialism at Africa’s expense, adds the BNN report under the headline “Impact of Chinese loans in Africa far more complex than portrayed”.
The report goes on to say quoting scholars that even the “aid” that China offers to promote education in Africa has severe colonial implications. “For example, the thousands of scholarships that China offers to African students to study in various Chinese universities are aimed at shaping and cultivating Africa’s next generation of leaders to remain loyal to future Chinese policies toward Africa”.