Geoff Neden

The truth about China’s investment in Africa

The truth about China’s investment in Africa
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The Spectator’s leading article last week ended up saying ‘It is unrealistic to expect that we can achieve what China has in Africa over the past decade.’ If we were to have done that, I for one would wish to resign my British nationality. What they have done there for the past 30 years is to systematically rape and pillage the continent.

China has insidiously worked its way into Africa by establishing ‘private’ contractors who then bid for building work and underbid all local opposition by being state-funded. Many local firms were thus put out of business.

Their ‘aid’ projects — starting with the ill-fated TanZam railway — were funded not by grants but by loans accepted by weak and venal governments. One more recent such project was the complete relaying of the railway through Botswana. This was carried out using Chinese designs, Chinese engineers, Chinese machinery, Chinese labour and Chinese materials. Even the stone ballast was brought in from China. When it was completed, it was found that the lines had been laid some 100mm too high for the full 600+km length. The Botswana government then had to relay every level crossing at their own expense. The costs of these ‘aid’ projects remain as loans to be repaid by the governments, who thus become trapped in debt to China.

In Sudan, the Chinese government bought hundreds of square kilometres of arable land — a scarce resource. The Chinese then used the land to grow food using Chinese farmers, seed, fertiliser and machinery. All the produce was exported to China. None of the above provides any benefits to the general African population — only to a few corrupt leaders.

This letter appears in this week's Spectator