Friday, 5 March 2010

The New Scramble for Africa - China fights for first place

The old age adage that history repeats itself is often one said in jest. But 150 years since the infamous Berlin consensus which signalled the carving up of Africa the world appears to be doing exactly that. But this time there is a new guy in town. Well actually a country, China. Chinese economic growth over the past 20 years has been impressive to say the least. With a growth rate between 8 and 15% year on year that other developing countries could only salivate at from a distance, China has asserted itself as the autonomous head of the south. In order to maintain this growth and feed its 1.2 billion populations China has fast accelerated its trading relations in Africa.

The Chinese economy has an eager appetite for all the resources of Africa - timber, iron ore, diamonds, copper oil, and other raw materials of interest for China’s industries. Stephanie Hanson, director of policy and outreach at One Acre Fund states “China now ranks as the continent's second-highest trading partner, behind the United States, and ahead of France and Britain”. China has already leapfrogged past the West in the last couple of years to become the largest manufacturer of Solar panels in the world. China has not gone unnoticed. Obama in his first state of the union address to America highlighted that exporting was paramount to both domestic and international We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are”. The real test for supremacy will be determined by the country that can get the resources to fuel exports. The new scramble for Africa has begun.

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