The period of geographical discoveries, also known as the Age of Discovery, was initiated by Portuguese and Spanish captains from the first half of the 15th century to the middle of the 17th century in order to find alternative trade routes that would reach the spice and precious metal wealth in Asia, and in this way, new continents, oceans and overseas territories were discovered in the Old World.
In the modern era, commercial revelations driven by financial control have surpassed basic economic and geographical discoveries. With its immense potential and continuously growing population, the African continent has become the new America of the world in this field. At present, the primary objective for export-driven manufacturers, trade organizations, and business chambers is to tap into the potential of the African continent and forge lasting commercial partnerships. Consequently, trade with the African continent has taken center stage as a significant business plan for multiple governments. A variety of investment programs have been unveiled with the aim of improving intercontinental relations.
Based on my frequent trips to Africa, it is clear to me that China has a significant lead over its competitors. The world trade bloc is now sharply divided into two groups. While the US and Europe remain closely allied, China, Russia, and other Eastern nations have joined forces through the BRICS coalition to form a distinct front. As of now, China has taken a strong initiative to expand its influence, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. This footprint move entails more than just selling goods to those regions; it involves localization, corporatization, and industrial establishment in the African continent. In other words, we can literally think of it as a move to penetrate the capillaries of a market. We can also call this providing employment for local people and making them open to Chinese commercial philosophy.
Exploring the Impact of Chinese Presence in Africa:
More than 8,000 Chinese companies are actively expanding their reach in Africa, tapping into various industries and fostering new partnerships and prospects. The presence and operations of Chinese companies have steadily grown, particularly in the last 7-8 years. Their influence can be seen across various sectors, including construction, energy, mining, banking, technology, and fast-moving consumer products.
Top 5 African countries with the most Chinese investments
South Africa: +1100 Chinese companies
Nigeria: +920 Chinese companies
Zambia: +750 Chinese companies
Ethiopia: +600 Chinese companies
Kenya: +500 Chinese companies
The statistics featured in the tables below serve as a strong indication of China’s dominant role in the African market. Within the polarizing global movement, Pole A stands for the US, while Pole B stands for China. It is clear that China has the upper hand in the commercial conflict over Africa.
China’s export volume to Africa in the past decade has exceeded that of many countries on a global scale. In the past 10 years, we have seen a significant 77 percent increase in China’s exports to the African continent from 2013 to 2022. Despite the challenges faced in 2020, there was still progress in these figures, although at a decelerated rate.
China’s export figures to the African continent for the last 10 years:
The 10 countries to which China exports the most to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022 :
The financial involvement of China in Africa :
In contrast to Western governments, China’s stance on investing in Africa is distinct. It portrays its loans as a form of mutually advantageous collaboration among developing nations and guarantees to refrain from meddling in the domestic politics of its borrowers. The Chinese have acquired knowledge through practice, as their extensive investments have demonstrated the boundaries of their approach.
When the South Sudanese civil war erupted, China found itself in the position of having to navigate talks with different anti-government groups to protect the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline, which was under the control of the China National Petroleum Corporation. China’s National People’s Congress maintains official ties with 35 African parliaments, while the CCP International Liaison Department has established connections with 110 political parties in 51 countries on the African continent.
A common fear among Western politicians is that China’s involvement in Africa is driven by a desire to establish a network of indebted African nations that can be exploited for their natural resources and trade potential. A common view among experts is that Chinese policy intentionally lends overwhelming sums to African countries in order to entangle them in debt, cement China’s dominance.
Many African countries are caught in a cycle of mounting debt due to their extensive Chinese loans, which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, and high interest rates. The concept of China potentially utilizing debt as a means to expand its presence in Africa and secure resource availability cannot be entirely negated. With its growing influence, China is engaged in a strategic rivalry with the US. Investing in stronger economic connections with Africa would align with its desire to establish itself as a major global power.