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Neocolonialism: instead of lecturing other countries, let us consider our history

By SIERRA LEONE NATIONAL TOURISM BOARD - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63938136

The Chinese authorities have never claimed that they were investing in Africa for altruistic reasons. By 1914 almost 90% of the African continent's landmass was under European control. The primary aim of the European countries involved in the process of colonization was obviously to exploit Africa's natural resources. Today, China is Africa's largest trade partner with a trade volume estimated at $180 billion in 2017. The Chinese enterprises, state-owned or private, have already squeezed out the least-competitive Western companies. This is the harsh reality. Chinese firms dominate the agricultural, technology and telecommunications sectors. Huge loans are given to local governments for resource development and infrastructure projects. However, and to take just one example, the launch in 2017 of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway with a total building cost of $4 billion is a problem. This amount represents almost a third of Ethiopia's current budget. The potential financial burden is of course unsustainable. In fact many of these loans will never be repaid. In return, the Chinese authorities have obtain that the highest possible number of Chinese companies will be directly involved in all building work. And China also massively supports the export of cheap manufactured goods often to the detriment of domestic producers. It is true that such practices have a slightly taste of neocolonialism. But a century ago many European states followed a similar policy. Some experts believe that the partnership between China and Africa should benefit both parties over the long term. Meanwhile, we are witnessing the steady decline of Western countries and companies in Africa.

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