Why African governments are seduced by China’s economic diplomacy

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Premium badge Reserved for subscribers

Posted on March 22, 2022 15:59

Kenya Railways attendants prepare to receive a train on the outskirts of Nairobi
Kenya Railways attendants prepare to receive a train launched to operate on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and financed by Chinese government as it arrives at the Nairobi Terminus in the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Although the west often associates corruption and uncouth practices with China’s deepening engagements across Africa, even within the confines of World Bank-financed contracts, Chinese firms are accounting for an increasing proportion of total contracts won. Could it be that the economic diplomacy of Chinese investments is equally attractive to African nations?

Roads are only missed in their absence.

Joel Mwangi, a driver in Kerugoya, the largest town in Kenya’s west-central Kirinyaga County – a region known for its agricultural production given the fertile land – says that new tarmac roads have made life that much easier.

“The Chinese have done well in that sense,” he says. “The roads are very okay here. You can now travel the 20 kilometres from Kerugoya to the centre of town in 20 minutes, which used to take up to an hour.”

The roads have eased supply chain logistics for food growers and shippers alike and are a big step up from its predecessors, pot-hole studded roads that wash out with seasonal rains. Many openly credit the Chinese for such development.

Africa’s Hunger for infrastructural development

In a recent study by the Center for Global Development (CGDev), researchers found that China’s development banks (China Exim Bank and China

There's more to this story

Get unlimited access to our exclusive journalism and features today. Our award-winning team of correspondents and editors report from over 54 African countries, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Abidjan to Abuja to Addis Ababa. Africa. Unlocked.

Subscribe Now

cancel anytime