The first decade of the 21st century witnessed China’s intensified foray into the continent of Africa. Its presence there has since become a subject of serious speculation. Africa is currently burdened by a debt of more than $300 billion, which it is experiencing enormous difficulties in servicing. On 15 December 2003, in his opening address to a two-day China-Africa conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao announced that his government had fulfilled its debt exemption commitment by cancelling $1.27 billion of Africa’s debt. Obviously, African leaders who interpreted this to be an indication of genuine friendship warmly received the gesture.
Are Sino-African relations mutually beneficial, or are they pushing Africa deeper into debt?
By Eliza M. Johannes