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U.S top diplomat criticizes China’s economic model in Africa

Mr Tillerson kicks off his African tour on Tuesday in an effort to counter China's recent dominance on the continent.

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In Brief

  • Tillerson  says China’s economic model in Africa not working
  • Diplomat comments come on the eve of his African tour that will see him visit Chad, Djibouti,Nigeria and Kenya.
  • Some of the countries he will visit are experiencing political and security challenges

China’s economic development plan in Africa is fueling dependency and risks putting democratic growth on the continent in jeopardy, top US diplomat Rex Tillerson has said.

Speaking on the eve of his week long African tour in George Mason University,Virginia, Mr Tillerson explained that the model contradicts that of America which works to enhance good governance and bolster democracies in Africa.

China, he said, uses corruption and predatory loan practices to undermine African governments and mire them in debt.

Tillerson’s visit begins in Ethiopia in a tour that will also see him visit Chad, Djibouti,Nigeria and Kenya.

His criticism for China comes amid increased investment by the country in Africa in projects ranging from road and rail infrastructure to energy and water sectors.

In Kenya for example, China is helping the country build a modern standard gauge railway project whose first phase is already complete. Construction of the second phase has already started amid opposition by environmentalists that the rail is passing through an animal park. 

In Ethiopia, China is involved in the construction of several industrial parks aimed at transforming the country into a garment manufacturing hub. The Hawassa Industrial Park for instance, has proved successful in just less than a year as it has attracted various world-class textile and apparel companies to the east African country.

The industrial zone has so far welcomed 18 companies that have already started operations inside the park. Six of them are presently exporting their products to the international market.

Early last year, Nigeria’s president, was seeking approval from lawmakers to borrow nearly $6bn from the Export-Import Bank of China for railway projects, as his government soughy to revive a recession-hit economy through spending on big infrastructure projects.

Nigeria is also planning to build a $5.8 billion hydro-power station in the country’s eastern Mambila region with a capacity to generate 3,050 megawatts with China’s support.

Nevertheless, China’s economic relationship has had its fair share of controversy. Recently, the country was accused of bugging the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia which it built in 2012.

Questions have also been raised on how balanced is trade between China and Africa.Concerns have also been raised as to whether Africans are actually benefiting from China’s presence in Africa.

During the construction of Kenya standard gauge railway line, some lobby groups accused the country for employing mainly Chinese engineers at the expense of the locals.

Yet Tillerson has a hard task to do especially after president Trump resent comments on Africa where he allegedly called Africa countries “shitholes.”

Africa is increasingly becoming a battleground for foreign power seeking control of resources.

According to latest economic reports, 6 out of ten most developing countries in the world will come from Africa while various economic outlook reports suggest that Africa economy will continue to exhibit strong growth up until 2030 and beyond.

“To understand where the world is going, one must understand that Africa is a significant part of the future,” says Tillerson,”

“Although China’s economic model in Africa does have the potential to address some infrastructure gap, its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries,” he observes.

Read:What Makes China’s Economic Achievements Suited for Africa

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