Friday, March 8, 2024

China Is Critical to Africa's Digital Development, But At What Cost?

 The Conversation published on 27 February 2024 a commentary titled "Africa Needs China for Its Digital Development--But at What Cost?" by Stephanie Arnold, University of Bologna.

China's involvement by companies such as Huawei and ZTE has been critical in African digital development. While it is often argued that China has been successful because it offers the cheapest technology, the author suggests it is due more to the fact that Chinese contractors are attractive partners because they offer full package solutions that include financing. 

The downside is that China seeks to promote Chinese digital standards and norms, including its technological and ideological principles.  That includes China's interpretation of human rights, data privacy, and freedom of speech.  China's Digital Silk Road seeks to establish a Sino-centric global digital order.  Over-reliance on a single infrastructure supplier makes the client more vulnerable and can result in digital authoritarianism.  The remedy is to diversify infrastructure supply.