While Western countries are still important players in Africa's energy sector, the deepening engagement of China in Africa's infrastructure, mineral sector and telecommunications is creating "deep nervousness" in the West, says David Shinn, the former U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.
Asian giants scent opportunity in Africa
The competition in these areas, he explains, usually pits big Chinese enterprises that are financially backed by Beijing's deep pockets against Western companies that often have shareholders to consider and are by-and-large acting independently of their governments' desires.
"If the Chinese government wants to encourage an engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they can make it happen," says Shinn. "If the United States wants its companies to get involved in the DRC all they can do is say 'look, there's an opportunity there, why don't you go explore it' and if they want to explore it, they do and if they don't they don't."
According to Shinn, this different system of government "does create anxieties" because "the United States and the West see China filling all kinds of voids that it thought it would eventually fill."
...Shinn says that to the eyes of many African leaders China's capacity to move fast, coupled with its policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, often makes Beijing a more attractive partner than the West, whose policy in the continent is usually linked to conditions about good governance and human-rights reforms.
Friday, September 9, 2011
I'm quoted in Teo Kermeliotis' CNN article: