I am going to talk about China’s presence in Africa that has grown dramatically in terms of trade, investment, and infrastructure financing since the early 2000s. This sparked excitement about the potential for Chinese engagement with Africa to re-ignite the continent’s economic growth, but it also raised concerns about the challenges that could arise. On one hand, China has pursued strategic relationships with African countries in a variety of ways. China’s rising presence in Africa, on the other hand, has elicited both acclaim and condemnation. I’d like to make a point that China, a pioneer in smart technology, has the potential to close technical gaps in Africa, therefore benefiting the environment. So, China may be abusing natural resources and causing fast environmental degradation. The Chinese are working harder than the G8 to eradicate poverty. G8 countries would have kept meetings if they wanted to rebuild a stadium. I think this is why the Chinese simply show up and do it. Meetings about environmental assessment and its impact on the African continent are not taken into account. Human rights, bad governance, and good governance are also not taken into account. To make things clear it is better to say that this they may be working to assist Africa in some sector but their role is causing huge disastrous impacts on Africa; this simply means that the Chinese is gradually taking over Arica’s resources which may have repercussions for the African people, in specific areas.
China’s influence on Africa
Firstly, China remains the most powerful player in Africa among the emerging Asian countries, and it is for this reason that this chapter is centered on China. Essentially, I’ll investigate the evidence around China’s engagement in Africa. In a variety of ways, China has cultivated strategic connections with African countries. On the other side, China’s growing presence in Africa has prompted both praise and criticism. Making my point clearer, China has the potential to close technical gaps in Africa, therefore benefiting the environment. Nevertheless to say, China could be wasting natural resources and hastening environmental damage. Africa has risen in worldwide significance over the last decade, and China is one of a number of rapidly industrializing nations that see the continent as strategically important. Of course, the associated narrative of development ‘cooperation’ rather than assistance and donor–recipient interactions underpins this concept of ‘help for self-help’.
Secondly, Chinese corporations may be found all throughout Africa. According to a McKinsey & Company analysis from June 2017, Africa has over 10,000 Chinese-owned businesses. China’s entry into Africa is motivated by a straightforward goal: to exploit the people and grab their riches. And, in my opinion, it is no different than what European colonists did during the commercial era, only worse. China wants Africa to become a Chinese-dominated continent. They are milking Africa for all it is worth. A number of African politicians agree with this viewpoint. Michael Sata, a Zambian politician, was one of them. He continued in that role until his election as President of Zambia in 2011. He simply claimed that European colonial exploitation appeared to be less destructive than Chinese colonial exploitation because, though commercial exploitation was just as awful, colonial agents also invested in social and economic infrastructure. What I really mean to say, Chinese investment is focused on extracting as much as possible from Africa, with little consideration for the wellbeing of the people. Sata’s aggressive stance was bolstered by a catastrophic explosion at a Chinese-owned explosives business that killed 50 Zambian workers. In addition to this, Africa’s stock market has lagged behind emerging markets.
Before going into details, it is necessary that I mention the role of China and its takeover in Africa. For many years, globalization passed Africa by. This was due to a number of factors. Africa was thought to have weak infrastructure, political unrest, and a low standard of living. Oil, gas, diamonds, metals, and rare earth resources trafficking is wreaking havoc in Africa. Africa’s resource nations were tied to the bottom of the industrial supply chain throughout the years when Brazil, India, China, and other “emerging markets” altered their economies. Despite the fact that Africa has 30% of the world’s hydrocarbon and mineral supplies and 14% of the world’s population, its percentage in global manufacturing remained unchanged in 2011. When China entered the picture, everything changed. Raw resources and energy were in short supply as the country’s manufacturing capacity expanded. They did help to place Africa on the map of globalization. In terms of Beijing’s corporate goals, the continent was positioned directly next to Shanghai.
Africa was at the top of the economic agenda in Beijing. It was a basic and achievable objective. Chinese officials sent commercial delegations to every African capital year after year. These delegates were successful in gaining infrastructure contracts and proposing trade agreements, establishing Africa as China’s “second continent.” That is, in a figurative sense. The stretched arm of globalization had impacted Africa. In 2015, China’s trade with Africa’s “second continent” totaled about $300 billion.
Thirdly, when considering the chronological order of Chinese investment in Africa in terms of its trade relations, I’d like to point that China has had a long history with Africa. Between 2000 and 2009, bilateral trade increased from US$10.6 billion to US$91.07 billion, with Chinese trade with Africa totaling $817 million, just before the fundamental developments that liberalised the Chinese economy. In the first half of 2011, imports and exports between China and Africa totaled US$79.01 billion, increasing 29.1% year on year. African countries have benefited from commodity exports such as oil, minerals, cotton, and logs; infrastructure construction such as transportation and public buildings, which ensure future social gains such as education and health care; machinery and auto-parts imports; and welfare gains from consumer imports from China. Due to rivalry with domestic industries, some local businesses have closed and jobs have been lost, mainly in the garment and textile industries. As a result, there were decreases in exports to third-country markets, as well as significant capacity losses due to labor and management deskilling.
Environmental concerns for Africa
Being a bit more realistic, when it comes to the environmental sector and its issues in Africa, Chinese authorities in Africa have never placed a strong focus on environmental protection. Pollution and the environment are two of the five risks, and all but one of Africa’s nine countries regard it as the least significant. People in China, on the other hand, regarded pollution and the environment as the most serious issue. As dreadful as it sounds, Some of China’s most polluting businesses, including as steel mills, cement plants, and tanneries, will be relocated to Africa to combat domestic industrial pollution. Hebei Iron & Steel announced plans to establish a steel plant in South Africa in 2014, with a capacity of five million tons per year. This is great for employment creation in South Africa, but I believe it will be disastrous for the environment. China has become a key stakeholder in Ethiopia’s leather industry, holding a number of tanneries with high pollution potential. Several of their procedures have been questioned. Of course, Western companies are rapidly exporting high-pollution industrial operations. This is also the case in Sierra Leone, where environmentalists protested the sale of 100 hectares of protected rainforest and coastline to China in order to establish an industrial fishing port.
Similarly, residents of a Gambia coastal community have filed a pollution lawsuit against a Chinese-owned fishmeal business. Golden Lead’s chemical waste pipe, according to campaigners, runs directly into the sea at Gunjur beach, a protected reserve an hour south of the capital Banjul. Golden Lead has a permit to process and export three and a half times the amount of fish consumed by all Gambians each year to Asia.
At the same time, I’d say that 54 distinct countries can be generalized, African environmental legislation and practice left a lot to be desired. Slow policy implementation, a lack of environmental law and institutions at both the national and subnational levels, ineffective legal enforcement, and a lack of financial and human resources have all harmed Africa’s and sub-regional environmental initiatives. The approaches to environmental protection taken by individual African countries varied substantially. While some nations have outstanding legislation in place, others lag behind. Still the point is there are severe budgetary and human capability gaps in all countries when it comes to implementing environmental protection measures. Environmental rules and standards are substantially lower in most African countries. However, this does not give China a permit to violate Africa’s environment.
How is China affecting Africa’s environment?
Moving forward to my next point, Chinese FDI is concentrated in sectors of the economy that are particularly sensitive to environmental problems, such as energy, mining, fishing, and forestry, as is the case with most global FDI in Africa. Chinese corporations have invested in mines that are sometimes placed in environmentally sensitive locations where environmental deterioration is more likely. And I think, they also produce greenhouse gases, solid and liquid waste, as well as toxic materials like cyanide and mercury. In terms of ecology, this rosewood species belongs to the hongmu family of slow-growing hardwood trees, which may be found in some of Southeast Asia’s and Africa’s most bio diverse woodlands. China’s burgeoning demand for the wood is placing these forests, as well as the forest tribes who rely on hongmu for food, fuel, and medicine, in jeopardy.
If so, consider this: small-scale African fishermen have accused Chinese fishing vessels of exacerbating food shortages by pursuing tiny fish that are their only source of food and income. The Fish Harbor’s goal is to centralize all fishing activity. Sierra Leone’s government has wanted a Fish Harbor since the early 1970s, but has been unable to make it a reality due to the large sums of money required. In terms of bathymetry, social safeguards (lowest resettlement cost), and environmental concerns rests with the release claims that Black Johnson was the best location for the facility’s construction.
I cannot emphasize more on China is the world’s largest importer of tropical wood from Africa. While much of this activity is purely commercial, part of it includes foreign direct investment by Chinese logging and wood trading enterprises. I say, Chinese firms, like their African counterparts, have a habit of breaking local forestry regulations. Bribery, operating without management plans, under-reporting export volume, smuggling raw logs, and harvesting and transporting non-designated species are all unlawful actions.
According to my observation, China’s government is sensitive to criticism of its forestry-related businesses. The State Forestry Administration and the Ministry of Commerce jointly released optional recommendations in 2009 to urge Chinese firms to manage, exploit, and safeguard foreign forests in order to contribute to the long-term sustainability of global forest resources.
The importing of items stolen from African endangered animals is the environmental issue for which China has received the greatest condemnation. Elephant ivory and rhino horn are two endangered species examples. However, rather than being classified as FDI, the majority of this activity is classed as illicit commerce.
To make further clarity, I’d say the dam construction in Africa is another problematic activity in terms of environmental repercussions; however this is done through commercial contracts rather than FDI. Despite having significant environmental consequences, they produce clean energy. In terms of environmentally beneficial wind and solar electricity, China has also moved to the top of the world. For Chinese exports, Africa is a modest but developing market. Everyone agrees that Chinese corporations, more than Western firms, need to improve their environmental standards when investing in Africa.
In contrast to the Chinese takeover debate, I’d say many African countries give environmental protection a low priority, have understaffed environmental bureaucracy, and have even poorer anti-corruption records than China. Many African countries are also hesitant to publicly criticize Chinese enterprises that engage in unethical environmental practices for fear of jeopardizing Chinese investment or good relations with Beijing. As a result, it will be up to the Chinese corporation to consistently lead the way in disturbing environmental procedures.
To conclude my point, the current status of the world economy, as well as the Chinese economy’s negative growth, may result in a drop in Chinese FDI in Africa in the near future. Indeed, the Chinese government has boosted its FDI in Africa in recent years, and these investments coincide with the continent’s robust economic development as a result of oil exports to China. Because of substantial Chinese investments on the continent, most African nations have enjoyed rapid growth in recent years. It is partly due to Chinese investments that several African nations are seeing tremendous economic growth today. However, the slowing of Chinese economic development may have an impact on African economies, resulting in a significant decline in GDP. In conclusion, is necessary to note the fact that China’s economic investments in Africa are there for a long term and so considering this matter, in both China’s and African countries’ best interests, it is crucial to promote effective environmental policies and long-term growth.
Written By : Ekow Shalders
Arojah Ferguson on May 26, 2022
G8 might not be visible on the ground, but its contributions to all sectors of the African economy cannot be overlooked. Indeed it has saved most African economies which would have been in a more deplorable state than they are now. Besides, China’s presence comes up for sharp rethinking in the area of environmental degradation and human rights abuses, not to mention their state-capture intent that is clearly portrayed in their presence and activities on most African soil.
However, for all the criticism that is thrown at it for her invasion or is it annexing of resource-rich Africa, all the thousands of Chinese (ex-convicts and professionals alike) on the African continent, may have gone through all legal checks and immigration processes of the respective countries before being cleared to enter. It sounds like they were invited “literally” to Africa to wreak mayhem and cover it all up with stretches of asphalted mileage of roads and some top-notch architectural edifices in office buildings and brides. (They are simply good at that, aren’t they?).
Ghana just as South Africa are two countries in Africa very rich in gold. A substantial portion of Ghana’s vegetation and environment cover have been consumed by reckless and unsustainable mining practices and mainly perpetrated by these Chinese who have the support of our leaders. For the water bodies, the least said about them the better. The question then arises as to, why South Africa has a better vegetative cover, a policy of sustainable mining and better preservation of water bodies all in the face of active mining, but ghana has not.
In Ghana, this Chinese mine with impudence in the full glare of security personnel deployed to protect them against the agitating youth of the affected communities who face a frustrating future. While the south Africans control these Chinese, the case is the opposite in Ghana.