Part 3 – China and Africa, is it a symbiotic relationship or a new form of colonialism?

China invest in African green energy

At the beginning of August the China-Africa Renewable Energy Cooperation and Innovation Alliance (CARECIA) started in Beijing. According to the official agency Xinhua, “CARECIA will help to establish power supplies and transmission systems in Africa through public-private partnership (PPP) projects.” Simon Pierre Adovelande, Beninese ambassador to China, suggested that the alliance, which includes core renewable energy manufacturers, finance institutions and smart grid providers (smart energy distribution), “starts with a few pilot projects, before expanding its influence across Africa”. A month later, the CARECIA and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) signed a memorandum of understanding. The aim of the agreement is to boost renewable energy production in Africa through a two-pronged strategy: building on the one hand micro-grids in some African isolated villages, on the other hand large-scale power plants.

In 2014 the Asian giant’s interest in Africa and its “silent potentiality” resulted in a 16 billion dollar investment plan to build green power plants in Morocco, Ghana and Zambia (the major player was Shanghai Electric, a state-owned company which in May 2014 bought 40% of the Italian company Ansaldo). The Chinese investors provide for the money to start building the plant and to support the business over the time, state-of-the-art technology, engineers, and skilled workers. What do they get in return?


China holds the big business of the future in its hands

By 2030 the demand for electricity in Africa will triple. A study funded by the engineering research company IHS Tower and headed by the scholar Adam Green found that the use of renewable energy could surge as the use of mobile phones before it. The lack of infrastructures is a need that someone will try to satisfy. China is this someone. The natural predisposition of the continent offers to solar, wind and hydroelectric power so vast possibilities that they cannot be measured. Frost&Sullivan, a society specialised in market analysis, foresaw that investments in African green energy will amount to 57 billion euros within three years, which is one-fifth of the current global amount. What emerges is one of the biggest businesses of the 20th century.

This happens while Donald Trump pushes the United States away from Paris Climate agreement and cuts USA investments abroad. China is today the first political and economic player in Africa and is position is bound to get stronger in the future. The John Hopkins University estimated that loans granted by Beijing to African countries and institutions in 2014 amounted to 14 billion dollars. African trade deficit with the Asian giant reached 34 billion dollars in 2015. African products slowly enter Asian markets, while in 2015 Kenya, one of the most developed countries of the continent, imported Chinese services to the value of 6 billion dollars.


The new African ruling class is trained in China

Chinese government aims at expanding the offer of language courses at university up to 95 languages. Beijing requires that future leaders speak fluently the language of the partner with whom they will be closing deals and trade agreements. English and French in international transitions with developing countries are put aside. The Chinese Dragon’s strategy of conquest is more focused and comprehensive: over the last ten years there has been a twenty-fold increase in the number of African students attending Chinese universities, thus overcoming USA figures (50 thousands versus 40 thousands). The elite’s education serves China’s dominance plan in Africa. Their visa policy forces foreign students to leave the country once they graduate. However, back in their homeland, the best of them find a steady job, often in a Chinese multinational.


The “soft power” as Chinese solution to dominate the black continent

One phrase can well define the strategy implementation: “soft power”, which is, in short, the financing of countries in serious infrastructural shortage without being involved in domestic policy matters. Whether they are democratic or dictatorial, bloodthirsty or peaceful, China considers all the countries with whom it establishes business relationships equal. On the 3rd of August the Chinese Ministry of Trade confirmed the growth of the import-export industry, highlighting that in the first half of 2017 trade volume in Africa has increased by 19%. During this year African economy is estimated to grow by 3.2%. China’s contribution cannot be denied. In return, Africa gives them monoculture lands, precious metals, oil and strategic points to the geopolitical control of the planet’s hot areas (an example is China’s first naval base abroad constructed in Djibouti).


The Chinese land in America

Ultimately, we disturb California democratic governor Jerry Brown, president Trump’s main internal rival on topics such as energy and human rights. “Disaster still looms”, commented the governor on the long period of fires that devastated highly populated areas near Los Angeles. Brown heads a Republic that could become the sixth world economy if it would leave e United States. California, seriously harmed by climate changes, aims at producing 50% of the energy supply from renewable sources by 2030 and at achieving zero-emission mobility.

The governor wished to establish new economic partnerships to open new lines of research and development. He was looking for an international player with a state-of-the-arte green economy and last June he found it. Guess who this is? Dear Donald longing to build walls, have you noticed that the Chinese have just come into your house?


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