African views on U.S.-China competition in Africa

African views on U.S.-China competition in Africa

good morning i’m raleigh flynn the president of the foreign policy research institute in philadelphia uh we are a non-partisan 501 c 3 think tank uh who we do research and events on international affairs and this morning we have a really special treat um our newly launched africa program is sponsoring a program and uh we are in collaboration with the foundation for strategic research uh which is part of university of whit with water strand in johannesburg south africa and our guests this morning are um actually we have one of them in south africa in cape town one coming to us from nigeria and another from kenya so um the the really exciting thing about this program this morning is that our africa program has been primarily uh americans uh u.s citizens talking about africa and this morning we’re having africans talk about africa and they’re going to be talking about uh their view of the u.s china competition in africa a really important topic before we get started i’m going to introduce our moderator who many of you know ambassador charles ray who’s a fpri trustee as well as the chair of fpri’s africa program he has a really impressive background having served as the u.s ambassador to the kingdom of cambodia and the republic of zimbabwe he also served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for pow missing personnel affairs and um he spent prior to joining the foreign service 20 years in the u.s army with postings in europe and asia including two tours in vietnam during the war uh and i will um momentarily turn it over to ambassador ray to introduce our guest this morning but before i do i want to flag an upcoming event for all of you we are going to be having a former ambassador ryan crocker on september 9th uh talking it’s part of our mainland’s line series with uh the host of that john nagle naugle i think it is and um going to be talking about afghanistan ambassador crocker was a former ambassador to an afghanistan he was ambassador to pakistan he was ambassador to iraq i can think of no one better to talk about this situation because he not only understands afghanistan he understands the region and he understands how that fits into us foreign policy making so mark your calendar september 9th that’s going to be a really special event and i think we just sent out an announcement on that and if we didn’t we’re just about to but check your check your emails for that finally uh before i turn it over to all of you i want to thank our members and supporters and our trustees who are on this uh event call this morning thank you uh if you’re not yet a member please consider becoming a member uh we always say these events are free to you but they’re not free to us and we really do need your support to keep this going but thank you to those of you who have already given generously we are truly grateful uh the usual housekeeping notes put your questions in the q a box in the chat we’ll be posting a map of south africa and region so you can uh look at that and to familiarize yourself if you would find that useful will also be made we are making a recording of this which will be posted usually within 24 hours if you want to view it again or share it with your friends so without further ado let me turn it over to ambassador ray thank you president flynn and welcome to all of you uh this the question or subject i would say uh u.s china competition has been really at the forefront of a lot of news here in the united states for some time now and in particular i think among foreign policy uh officials the the issue of u.s china competition in africa has been a big part of a lot of discussions one of the things that has not been done to my knowledge uh is to get the african viewpoint of this competition and that’s what we hope to do today and we put together a panel i i don’t think we could have put together a more appropriate group uh we have a a group of experts who not only are well versed in the situation on the african continent but each of them has has deep ties with china uh through their studies and and we hope that uh you will get a lot out of this today i’d like to quickly introduce the panel and then we’ll have them uh give you their their presentations first we have uh mandira bhagwandeen who is a graduate of fudan university in shanghai china she’s a research fellow for the foundation for strategic research in france and also a research fellow for the afro cyano center for international relations in ghana with beatrice matiri masori who has a phd from the university of business and economics in beijing just 20 years of experience in international business and trade in asia the middle east africa and europe and also we have effing in ooby acting director of research and studies uh and of the nigerian institute of international affairs who also has a phd from g lynn university in northeast china uh unfortunately uh professor bob wakesa the acting director of the african center for the study of the u.s will not be able to join us today but i think we will still have a very uh [Music] fulsome conversation nonetheless i’d like to start have each of the panelists give a brief introduction and then we will get into questions and answers uh and i would start with ms pacquiao followed by miss uh matiri masori uh and then mr ubi so if you would please uh introduce yourselves uh and what you have to say about this topic okay sure thank you charlie um first i’d like to say you know thank you to thank you um to the organizers for inviting me to be part of what i think is going to be a very robust and interesting introduction um it’s also such a great pleasure to be in the presence albeit virtually with distinguished individuals and experts so um just about a bit about my research and kind of uh my my studies on china i’ve i’ve been studying and analyzing china and it’s foreign relations for a while now about i think eight or so years and i’ve covered beijing’s relations with iran in the context of its energy security during my master’s research after that i closely followed south china sea and india china tensions when i worked in the corporate sector as a asia-pacific country risk analyst and over the last four four years my phd research has focused on china-africa relations specifically the belton road initiative and chinese railway developments in east africa um and just to provide a few comments uh and uh some of my thoughts on the topic of discussion today i think um that the the current uh us tensions or u.s china tensions are playing out in a kind of cold war-esque fashion um you know the two are at lovely heads in almost every aspect both geopolitically and geo economically from trade you know from trade tensions to tech competition to project presenting the world with different governing and development models and different transcontinental transcendental initiatives you know china’s bri and now the us and g7 b3w um in my opinion it it seems that the us is it seems like the u.s is threatened by and trying to tail china’s global influence um i think i mean i’m not an american citizen so you have you can correct me at any time you’d like but i i think that you know the u.s wants to reinforce its position as kind of this vanguard for economic and political liberalism and i think this is in light of china having shown or showing the world especially the developing world that are that are an alternate political economic model one that is um socialist communist state-led and i’d even go far as to say mechanicalist in nature can also produce development results and i think now when we look at this u.s china competition guys to africa i think that african states need to avoid becoming proxy battlefields or pawns as they were in the cold war for me i think african countries need to be prudent and they’re dealing with the us and china to ensure that their development needs are prioritized and their interests are put first and that they do not become embroiled in geopolitical tussles um i also think in my opinion i also think it’s it’s an opportune time for african agency to be practiced and asserted it’s a chance for african countries not to just sit on the periphery of the international arena as observers but a chance for them to actively shape and influence geopolitical balancing you know we’re all away well at least those of us you know who are familiar with with like international history and china’s history as well are a way um you know that we are aware of the power of a collective africa and shaping international politics i think um you know you can look at the example of how the african bloc was used or uh kind of sided with with china and unseating taiwan at the u.n so now i think african states either continentally or regionally must think carefully about some type of collective strategy for navigating this this great power rivalry on the continent and at the same time looking at to see how this right this rivalry can be leveraged to serve african interests and just uh speaking a bit more to to china and africa we know or you know i think china has harvested and cemented itself as this dominant player politically and economically in the continent it has uh developed a reputation as as africa’s go-to development partner treating african countries as equals really taking a muscular approach to development you know investing heavily and transport energy and logistics infrastructure these this type of physical infrastructure that can propel economic development on the continent and i think for the years to compete with china in africa it needs to rethink its approach i think sticking to its to kind of its guns on you know promoting democracy and market lead principles isn’t going to get it very far but like don’t please please don’t misunderstand me here though these are important and relevant principles and issues especially for ensuring good governance but they mean very little in my opinion for african citizens living in poverty who and african countries especially lower lower income countries that are in need of socio-economic development and i think learning from china the u.s could take a more flexible or hybrid approach looking to tailor development packages and like really listen to africans instead of kind of imposing what what it thinks is right or trying to replicate its kind of economic and political principles on the continent but i’m not saying that the chinese approach is flawless i i think i think it has its weaknesses being you know being state-centric elitist and some would even go far to call it uh self-enriching but they do get a lot of kudos for taking the time and effort to really engage with african leaders nationally uh as well as regionally and continentally i think that i think today i i’ve been very interested and looking forward to this discussion because i think as the discussion unfolds today we need to kind of be careful not to overly generalize chinese or u.s relations and interactions with africa you know uh we need to keep in mind that uh africa is a has 50 plus countries 54 countries that have varying uh relations and and uh degrees of engagements with with these two powers so it’s i i really look forward to us kind of keeping uh to engage engaging critically and as well keeping kind of an open mind into in today’s discussions thank you charlie uh thank you uh and next uh beatrice materia my sorry uh i echo our baghdad sentiment thank you so much for having me in this meeting today and uh you know when i think about this particular question is is a little very different uh you know thoughts for me as as an african i wouldn’t understand why there is competition you know about africa and you know sometimes it’s very difficult as an african to understand why would somebody else be you know competing you know or having some competition around you and many times when i listen to this dialogue um i know we have uh you know and the you know the forum for china africa uh development and there is uh our agenda or china agenda or beijing agenda about africa which is uh you know very well captured in in in the forecast and as well we we we have had uh you know um uh us africa summits which over the last 25 years have most probably been driven around you know agoa agreement for growth in africa but always people ask what is what is then the agenda for what is the africa’s agenda for for itself uh in the middle of all this and i always when i talk about this topic i just really want to echo the agenda 2063 which is the africa’s agenda for the africa we want and uh crafted in 2015 very elaborate in terms of you know um the need for growth and sustainable development and the forecast areas that africa aspires to focus on health education and you know science technology and innovation the blue economy but also the need for an integrated continent connectivity uh issues around infrastructure financial institutions and you know the idea around pan-africanism but also issues around governance and democracy peace and security which is uh you know a big area that usa over the years has focused on in africa but as well the the document and and the the the spirit of the agenda 2063 brings it to the attention that um it is about an africa whose development is africa people driven which is relying on the potential of the african people especially the women and the youth but as well um aspiration seven puts it very clearly that it’s really about a strong united africa which is an influential global partner now when i read all this i i really see a spirit of africa about itself the aspirations for what africa wants for for herself or for for for its people um and reading through this there is of course a very clear indication that there is need for you know large-scale infrastructural connectivity and you know rapid transformation are from now 2020 2021 when we are talking to 2063 and this of course there will be need in terms of growth in the transport information sectors energy sectors water sectors but most important is really the industrial aspect industrialization of you know the african continent and the growth of um you know regional value chains across east africa west africa north africa uh um maybe related or you know borrowing into the complementarities between the 54 african countries but also a very major part of this vision and this aspiration for africa is growth of urban cities and you know industrial zones around those particular urban cities but as well the need for market connectivities market linkages um so when i think about uh you know the opportunity that africa stands with china or the africa the opportunities that africa stands with uh usa for me i see developmental partners and developmental partners that are needful um not one excluding the other because if you look into the kind of programs and the kind of projects and the kind of areas identified by the agenda 2063 that each of this developmental partner has focused on is very complementary in nature over the years usa has focused on peace and security uh building the peace and security architecture in you know in the african countries but also the health sectors are ensuring that there is capacity building uh within the pepper and uh you know the preparedness you know for african uh uh health or logistics and and networks comes china and china really the main focus is on infrastructural connectivity from roads railways um bridges and enemy tall buildings across you know the the continent so in my view each of this partner is needful in africa their work is very um complementarity and for me as an african when i actually look at this relationship i i don’t see it as a competition i actually see opportunities for the african people in terms of opportunities to be able to scale up financial flows that will build the africa’s future and there is opportunity for all these developmental partners then to partner and to work with africa to come up with new uh models and new ways of financing for development that drive impact and scale across or the varied african countries 54 african countries as well i see markets um you know markets not only for raw products from african countries as we have seen in the past if we look at agoa there’s been development of in in terms of the value addition and the industrialization promotion that has been encouraged over the uh the last 20 20 20 or so years but of course different african countries benefit at different uh levels um and i think for the agoa the agreement for growth opportunity act with the african countries and the us then we can say most probably the eastern african countries uh especially on the textile industries have benefited more more um as well as maybe south africa with the motor vehicle industry um china within the forecast has also um encouraged quite a lot of you know industrial support um industrial growth and uh increasingly we’re seeing a focus uh on promotion of not just raw products but more value-added exports into into china so for me i see opportunity for markets you know markets for value-added products um i see markets for the growth or the output of the industrial capacity or the infrastructure of the manufacturing that will go on in africa beyond that i see opportunity for more people to people relationship over the years there’s been more government to government interaction but i see opportunity for more private sector ngos civil societies to you know to engage more for sustainable development and sustainable growth in africa i also see opportunities for you know innovation in mutual grain growth and sustainability areas around renewable energy environmental protection and at this particular point in time when we we are in covid it’s been reminded to all of us i mean covered strikes wherever it is all of us that are affected so i see opportunities for health uh in pharma uh industries um opportunities around digital technology and the service sectors so what am i wanting to say it is viewed as competition elsewhere but for us as african i think it is really we are echoing our aspiration seven of the agenda 2063. africa a strong united resilient and influential global player and partner so what is very important for us as africans then is that we our development of partners will give us room to define our developmental path but also to be able to choose our partnership those partnerships that um uh be fitters it as a matter of fact for me i i don’t think at this particular point in time we really need to be talking about two major developmental partners because if you look at african growth and you know african future um there has been you know in terms of trade africa has traded across board with usa with china with european countries and especially for us in the east africa where i come from nairobi with india turkey russia so there is diversity in terms of developmental partners that we look uh we look at um as a matter of fact uh most african east african nations are really looking into the indo-pacific strategy what opportunities lie in terms of market and in terms of openness and addressing and being connected through the belt and road initiatives to the 4.3 billion people that live around the indo-pacific industry and of course this then helps us to be able to address issues around the terrorist threats around the indian ocean but also promote more stability across the indo-pacific region of which east africa really um stands as a gateway you know for africa to the indo-pacific uh uh region but of course this also presents more opportunities for um freer and you know fair trade but also opportunities for energy linkages so in totality i don’t see the competition i honestly see more opportunities thank you thank you very well said uh fm ooby your introduction sir uh first of all um let me thank the distinguished scholars here and participants and um for the opportunity uh presented to air my views as an african on um china and us in africa um you know i like the actually said you know what comes into mind is you know anytime they talk about china u.s and africa you know everything that comes around this competition why the competition you know why not cooperation and the question is competition over what that’s what i keep asking well what are they competing for is it the resources both natural and human or is it over the control of the continent as a whole you know this whole discourse about rivalry about competition takes us back to 1885 you know um during the scramble for africa it reminds me of the scramble of africa where the europeans and sat at the berlin conference and start petitioning africa with pen and paper and all that i think that’s exactly a replica of what this whole discourse about rivalry and competition is all about now the discourses of rivalry and competition of this nature tribalizes africa that’s how i think about it it tribalizes africa and it’s and its most fundamental problems you know which are equipped by our under development which uh the actress has also listed some lack of development stagnated development insecurity everywhere you know now i think had the way i see it you know if this completion wasn’t there i think the two countries or other superpowers would come together you know in a concerted effort to see how they could you know remedy some of these situations that are actually uh uh destroying the continent you know i think it is high time for me that the whole discourse is about competition about rivalry should be changed to cooperation you know in order to build up the kind of africa that we are looking for and in any case i don’t see any reason why that competition should persist or why their rivalry should persist and like some other speakers have said i think for me you know uh i see opportunity it then gives africa actually a leverage now it gives us an option you know prior to the advance of the rise of china i think we never had options we just had to relate with the west and the uh europeans and the and americans you know and but right now we have an option we could decide to either relate to the united states or we can decide to relate with uh china or decide to relate with other powers you know that big now don’t forget that see this competition is not just about china and the u.s other powers too are competing much recently russia has come up with the russia african summit what for i wrote an article uh some few months ago which is titled one continent one country in that in that industry that kind of situation i it undermines africa where a 54 countries of the continent will visit just one country and you know you know it doesn’t make no sense to me i’m sorry maybe don’t i please um don’t mind my language i i don’t mean no harm you know it doesn’t make any sense that a country would call 54 countries to come visit and have a discussion with them now there’s an agenda that already said they’re an agenda that they have decided on what to do for africa and how africa should be governed now what should happen so africa you know this is not right you know and same thing with other powers japan the tickets he said they can’t say india tweet is doing the same thing like i argued in that article someday brazil we also call africa for a meeting because these are all emerging powers you know and they are trying to compete over africa taking us back to the days of colonialism um for me i think it is not right what is right is that you see this competition should become cooperation you know if you look at some uh discourses that have that have already been going on in um china uh africa discourse and other places there’s this one called the trilateral dialogue you see in that kind in that kind of situation a peso you know when you when there’s a trilateral dialogue or whether it’s either it could be beyond three countries say u.s eu uk other western countries africa china india come together and now see how they can manage the kind of crisis that africa is in our problem is not the competition our problem is how we can leverage on whatever uh uh uh leverage on the powers that are actually coming into africa to that that will lay the foundation for africa’s development that will help us solve our perennial problems like insecurity you look at the whole of sahel the whole of sahel is already ridden within security there’s there’s a total collapse within that region west africa same thing if you move beyond that other parts of africa are also having the same problem now why not turn this supposed competition i mean into cooperation and see how you could remedy these problems now take for instance when i’m going to use my contrasting history at the at the at the embryonic stage of insecurity terrorism we asked for weapons from some of the some some of the countries from the west they refused to sell weapons to us we didn’t have access to weapons and we couldn’t do nothing with the only country we had to resort to and i was willing to sell weapons was china it was a welcome idea for a lot of nigerians a lot of africans you know because you know china was willing to signal these weapons i think for me um our relationship with the powers should be genuine when the relationship is genuine i think it is not about their selfish interests about their innate interests it’s about the interest of their interests and the interests of africa what does africa need in your relationship with africa as you engage africa what do you want to engage africa on you know now africa like i said for me you know since it is a point this this kind of rivalry this kind of competition however it is called it it’s a time for africa to leverage on our relationship with the u.s leveraging our relationship with china leveraging our relationship with other powers in africa you know it is high time for africa to re-strategize its engagement with most of these countries especially the chinese and the us yeah um um i would say that uh from my viewpoint i you know i’ll use let me use the uh a concept in international relations china i think a lot of africans you know are beginning to see china as a lesser evil you know because china is willing to invest where a lot of countries from the west are refusing to invest especially in infrastructure like she has listed and you know over the years uh for the past 10 years i’ve been working on china africa china nigeria i’ve gone i’ve gone in and out of china a lot of times you know to do studies and i’ve gone to some parts of africa like mombasa and mombasa in kenya to study the the mombasa rail line that the chinese are building you could see this physical infrastructure and the argument has always been over the 150 years that the west has been in africa what is that to show the only thing you see you know and what a whole lot of africans are saying is that you see the rail lines that you’re saving in africa that was built by the west by um at the period of colonialism where from the areas of raw materials to the seaports but now you see we are we are seeing advanced uh rail rail lines across africa recently we just launched somewhere about uh would launch a one of our rail stations you know i think this year alone we have launched about uh commission about two sorry with commission number two and all that and they were all built by the chinese i think it is high time you know that uh america the chinese and other powers in africa move away from this supposed core rivalry supposed competition and leverage on their position to see that africa developed to see that africa’s problem is remedied you know the problem of insecurity lack of underdevelopment a lack of development under development stagnated development across africa there’s a whole lot of crisis and this rivalry is actually not healthy for africa because it is not actually giving africa uh it is not actually helping africa it is not putting africa in a position to to act actually you know engage properly because you know um um for instance let’s put it this way let’s let me let me put let me bring this point you know i want us to understand that you see the way u.s engages africa it engages africa it has more engagement with what it called partners but that is different from the chinese chinese engaged the 54 countries irrespective of where you belong whether you are your your your democracy whether you are a communist whether you’re an anarchist chinese relate with all of them equally and decide you know and and negotiate with you but you see if the americans don’t really do that they have they have core partners they relate with and you know now they decide who their partners are i think that’s true there should be a shift of that kind of engagement i think they should they should begin to engage africa you know all the 54 countries of africa equally and not peak partners you know why now the question is why pick partners why why pick partners and if you’re not done you’re picking these partners and the chinese are engaging 54 countries and you don’t call it a lot of media houses everybody’s calling it the rivalry i don’t think there’s any rivalry it i think the the rivalry can become productive if it turns out to be cooperating to see that africa’s problems are solved and resolved you know and much more importantly i think for africa uh like i said we must we strategize our engagement i think africa should begin to think of a policy of engagement with every country uh there are a lot of countries in africa i don’t think they have policy of engagement just the same way the u.s has used africa’s policy china has strong africa policy which is under focus you know i don’t think most countries in africa have a process of engaging with these major countries i think africa should begin to do that now the two powers must understand that africa cannot develop by age irrespective of how much age china gives to africa how much aid the united states gives to africa africa might not develop based on it i think development in africa is is in what i think it should be african solution to africa’s problem and not china’s solutions to africa’s problem and not u.s solutions to africa’s problem another can it be any power solution to africa’s problem the problem of africa is africa and africa must begin to think africa must begin to not decide where to begin with how to sort out these problems and until we begin to do that then or to begin to do that we will never move away from where we are i wrote you know in the past couple of uh months i talked about the gloom in boom in africa the past two decades african south africa was growing there was african economic renaissance but that was that was a myth that was nothing like that existed you see because it’s economic statistics is never development you could grow at seven points gdp will grow at five percent gcp but if it does not translate into human development that is not development and we have been made over the years to understand that once your statistics starts growing then you’re developing no i think this is totally wrong i think we also begin to unravel this myth africa themselves we should begin to unravel this myth and then i think the last point i want to hit on is you know i was in a meeting sometimes in a dc and um it was about the millennium the development challenge you know uh aid you know and there were missing countries that were eligible to get this aid and a lot of countries were not eligible and i asked them in that meeting who created this criteria who gave this who brought out this criteria and they said criteria came from different organizations like amnesty human rights watch and all that i said no you cannot decide to tell us that we are not doing well in the particular we should be the ones you know to tell you whether we are doing well or not and not you deciding to tell us but the chinese you see they don’t even think about these conditions they don’t give conditionalities to assess money anyway they don’t give that condition but they give you economic conditions which is right for me i think i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that but you see when you start trying to use conditions like the system of government the type of government is iran you know it is actually it’s actually destroying you know the society in in in a way that you know it will it will you know the leaders are actually the ones you know the the publics are the ones suffering because when you place sanctions and these sanctions the problems are the ones suffering the masses because the leaders don’t suffer i think we should begin to restrict strategize even development uh agendas for uh the developing world generally you know like i said and i’ve argued democracy is not a one-size-fits-all you see you i think it is high time we try to adapt and adopt you know a system that actually works for africa i think in that right i think we’ll begin to achieve something and in in finality i will say that where irrespective of the rivalry or competition i think africa should begin to maximize you know their relationship with any of these powers whether it is the u.s or whether it is china you know to leverage on their economic growth and development thank you very much thank you and thank you to all three of you for giving us some very very good food for thought uh before we move into the audience q a i’d like to first ask audience members who’ve been putting your questions in the chat box please put them in the q a so that our q a moderator can can get to them easily i i would like though before we go to the audience to to ask a a question um and i hope this is not provocative uh but it is one that that has been discussed in some forums that i’ve attended here in the us and that is given the the predatory lending practices and lack of transparency of the chinese and and the potential impact on the economies of the countries that they make these loans to is there anything that that you think or any role that the us can play in helping the countries of africa leverage this this lending from china in ways that are beneficial or should we even be involved and i’d like to first go to you beatrice with your business experience and get your views on that yeah i think this is a very interesting question uh you know their predatory lending like you called it um i mean this this is a dialogue and this is a conversation you pick on the media from time to time well there could be um you know the truth about it but there could also be the untruth you know about these uh conversations and i think um like we said um some of the dialogue is really around the competition as we as as we are calling it um it is true that our african countries are in need of financing as a matter of fact in 2018 um afdb did african development bank did a research and they said that by that time the infrastructural development or development in africa would have required about 200 billion u.s dollars and there was a gap of about um 68 to 108 uh billion dollars so it means that definitely africa has to borrow from somewhere to to um to develop um the question is where now historically speaking africa has you know over the years been borrowing from the imf and from the world bank and if we would also say predatory i think that has also been predatory in a way because many times i mean you know i know kenya will borrow but i may never know where that money as well goes into right so over the years each of the african countries has maintained you know um uh debt burden over the years and sometimes you may actually not know where this money has gone into um so i i pick on uh dr ube’s comment when he said when we have china financing and you can actually see the infrastructural development and the changing terrain in the african countries and you can actually attest to the connectivity from one african country to the other and you can actually see the developing industrial terrain in the countries then myself as an african i am really lost to say why is this predatory why is this viewed as predatory so in this case um i i i think there is quite a lot of you know maybe politics or in this kind of conversation but of course over the years uh many african countries are also um are getting to the limit of their you know the debt burden so there is uh definitely need for alternative and more innovative you know financing uh models uh for each of the african countries well some of the governments and some of the countries have gone to what we call um uh public private uh partnerships uh to allow uh private investors you know to to finance what otherwise would have been financed by the government there has been you know conversations also around the use of um sovereign wealth funds in terms of financing which is you know for foreign uh reserves that african countries have somewhere else uh but just really to say uh bottom line i think uh what the conversation is really very important is in terms of what projects are really really necessary what are those projects that give maximal impact in terms of their nature um doctor will be there earlier talks about you know the mombasa nairobi uh uh express railway um that was intended to open up not just kenya but open up uh um you know parts of uganda as well in kenya we have what we call the lapset lamu lapset corridor which is uh expected to open up not just kenya but parts of you know southern sudan um ethiopia as well as you know the drc so these kind of large-scale projects that have got maximal impact in terms of the number of countries that they they connect but also in terms of the number of people that they can bring out of poverty is really the kind of you know um decisions that i i think maybe our developmental partners should be helping us you know put into dialogue what is helpful in terms of open up opening up the entire africa as we look into african continental free trade area um there is their needs to actually open up most african countries and um i mean i’ve had opportunity to travel around african countries sometimes it is really it is more expensive for me to move from my country kenya and go to maybe drc or congo brazzaville it’s more expensive than it would cost me maybe to go to beijing or to be to fly to london so in this case there is their need to for large scale kind of projects that have got maximum impact and maximum returns um that will drive more sustainability in africa thank you thank you uh efm your uh your comments on that question please you’re muted okay thank you very much i i think um i recently again you know we had a problem i i i take my country as a case study we had a problem more presently last year you know that we were boring too much from china and um [Music] china is not actually going to take our so we sovereignty we give our sovereignty to china and i came by i had to write on it and but you see when i was doing my analysis when i was doing my research i found out that africa owe more more to the west they all moved to the west and their financial institution that they oh that they go to china for instance we are owing about 20 something billion dollars but we owe china only three billion dollars i’m using my country as a case study so in that right you see why is why was there the whole uh hype about the death trap there’s no death trap anywhere you know and you know like i argued why would you say uh we are we are subletting our sovereignty to china in the 21st century how can a country like this sublet its sovereignty you know meanwhile it’s just a particular clause in the in the in the loan agreement that when you refuse to pay don’t come don’t come up with sovereign immunity when you go to court over that you know that was what it is you know um i don’t think i think um for me you know loans are supposed to be used for the purpose for which it is spent for you know in the in the seventies in the eighth when we’re talking about eight fatigue you know uh it was because the money that was collected were not used for the purpose for which that money was meant for instead the regimes were using it to pay the boys as usual to keep themselves in power now if you collect money for infrastructure focus you have to build that infrastructure you have to develop that infrastructure you know and you see what what we need much more now is building infrastructure because without infrastructure the economy can grow we need that connectivity we need air connectivity which uh uh mre has talked about we need uh uh waterways we need the the roads you know and if we accept we have those those infrastructure productive infrastructure africa can’t move anyway and you know building africa’s infrastructure is very expensive and we need money the most countries in africa don’t have the financial we are with that they are financially incapacitated and you don’t expect us if you know china is giving you two to three percent interest uh interest when you go to imf and world bank the interest is higher you know you see it’s you know it normally is business i see it as business you go to where it’s cheap so if it’s cheaper then you now go i think um although uh i i i quite agree with some of the argument that has been put forward not you know not from the panelists right now but from other discourses you know about the fact that china is not part of the dark countries you know it doesn’t take into consideration a whole lot of measures you know that should be taken into consideration for giving before giving out loans but i think you know irrespective of how this money comes for me it is not how the money comes or where the money is coming from but how the money is channeled is the money channel into the proper reasons for which the money is collected if you’re collecting money for railways still railways because if for roots build the roads you know let we need to see this physical infrastructure and for us the truth is that we are seeing them you know china is actually building these things we are seeing them you know um i think there should be complete complementarity you know within these powers if china is doing one of these then other countries should be doing this you know i’m not the rival i’m going to the media you know and say that trap you know i think they this last one yeah has shown that the social media could destroy a whole lot of things because there’s so much disinformation there’s so much misinformation and there’s totally lack of information especially from a lot of government and that is why you know you could see a whole lot of information that is going out there that is not true you know i i you know i i’m happy um uh uh there’s a study that was carried out i think uh uh carrie also something that where the dance of among the sri lankan kids you know which was the one that was stated but you know uh if you look at the focus agreement you have started the the focus uh plan of action and that agreement everybody yes you know you could see where they talk up or talk about bill operate and transfer it is there so sometimes uh um i think it is lack of understanding and i want to clearly state this here which i have done and i did because my pro my my phd dissertation was on infrastructure development chinese infrastructure development it comes in three kinds there is gratis gratis is basically for social infrastructures like residential policies stadiums cultural centers now there’s also one that comes in percentage form that means they receive the recipient country is willing to bring a percentage of that money they want to get from china china is going to bring 70 percent for instance the recipient country will bring 30 percent and in many cases that 30 percent is not in in cash but another uh [Music] housing administration and all that you know now the third one is is the one that is wholly funded by the chinese government or the chinese company but i want to say one thing here which again will give us a clear understanding of how the chinese operate you see when it is in percentage form if many countries have not been able to pave that they are one part uh of the obligations for instance it is 30 percent they don’t bring now those chinese companies will have to go and source for funding those chinese companies will have to go and source for funding and now make up to complete that project now i remember there’s a country a particular country when that where where that happened and what happened was the chinese the the government had to give that infrastructure to the chinese the conservative of chinese companies to run for a period of time until they recuperate their money so will you say that is china will you say that chinese sees that that that infrastructure no i think we should begin to understand i think part of the problem we have here is the lack of understanding of the chinese relationship with africa you know we spent a whole lot of time understanding reading about the west’s relationship but not looking in-depth into how china operates and relates with african countries and i think from what i have seen there too have also been starting i think where the rivalry is ongoing anyway in in in a pseudo sense they have been studying each other and knowing the fault lines of each of them now this one try to leverage on the other in terms of relationship but the question is this religious rivalry to what end is it for africa that is a question we should be asking ourselves if what is africa gaining from this rivalry in any case i think for me the best like i have said is for these powers to come together to see that africa moves from where it is right now and we’ll keep borrowing as long as we don’t have money to run the economy we keep going for infrastructure africa is about more than a trillion dollar annually to build its infrastructure uh my former minister of uh finance and community minister of economics say we need a billion one hundred billion dollar annually doesn’t even have that kind of money so we have to rely from donors we have to live uh rely on it from our from outside the country you know to be able to get this done and you see we are willing like it is always a capital flight to where it is needed so we are willing to fly to where we can get this money you know to upgrade and build our infrastructure and build a robust economy thank you very much all right thank you thank all three of you i could i could ask questions for the rest of the session but i i see we have quite a few questions in our q a box and so i will i will turn it over to our president raleigh flynn to moderate that before i do i would like to remind all of the audience would you please put your questions in the q and a box not in the chat box uh and thank you president flynn over to you uh thank you very much ambassador ray and thank you to to our panelists for a really fascinating discussion which has obviously prompted a great many questions we have 17 in the q a and a bunch more in the chat so so thank you all for those uh i was also remiss in my introductory remarks and not saying more about the african center for the study of the united states which with whom we are partnering today uh this is part of the university of waterstrand in johannesburg south africa one of the top universities in all of africa and in all of the world i might add and this is a center that was launched in march 2018 and um it’s the first of its kind on the african continent to really uh analyze the united states and um and sort of redress as they say the imbalance in the knowledge flow between the us and africa we are really honored to be to be partnering with them on this program this morning and hope it is the start of many more because clearly we are not going to be able to get to all those questions that are in the chat and in the q a box uh but um one of them that i find very interesting is um that came in early in in the conversation it mentions that china’s been very visible in africa’s trade and infrastructure modernization front and the us on the other hand where china has focused on trade and infrastructure the us has focused on africa’s security and social transformation and the questionnaire says africa needs both of these um it’s not shouldn’t be an either or but the question is how would uh our panelists assess the relative needs of those and um i don’t know who wants to go first but but maybe mandira would you be interested in taking that on we can’t hear you uh yes sure i’ll take a stab at it um so i think you know a lot of you can definitely see like a chinese kind of engagements in africa and kind of the the kind of visible engagement is the infrastructure and then on the other hand we have the u.s involved in peace and mostly in peace and security and more like social social issues such as healthcare and education um and i definitely think that you know it doesn’t it doesn’t necessarily mean that okay now the u.s needs to go into infrastructure i mean africans need to kind of and they are doing as we’ve seen with the gender 2063 and very regional regional plans looking at you know okay we need infrastructure china is generally our go-to development partner for these things you know if we go to the us and they can’t we’ll go to china it’s it’s just about having your options open and going for the best option and i think that you know we don’t you don’t necessarily have to stick to one partner we now are also seeing that china is getting you know security footprint peace and security footprint has grown in africa it’s it’s involved in um unp’s keeping operations as well um so it’s in my opinion you don’t have to to like stick choose choose one person to supply or one sorry one country or one development partner to to meet all your your needs it’s more about you know having a variety of players in the game and looking at which offers you the best kind of solutions and uh packages to to kind of meet the country’s needs thank you uh beatrice or evan would either of you like to comment on that yeah i i i would say that uh in my view this is very complementary nature um china focusing on trade and infrastructure means that there is openness there is connectivity there is opportunity to precipitate more industrialization and that goods from one market can be able to move from one place to the other but you realize also in africa there is you know quite a lot of you know social needs um you know when we talk about the health infrastructure when we talk about you know governance issues when we talk about the nature of the institutions and and this is where the u.s government has also focused on now when you talk about trade it is mainly the private sector that is actually doing trade that is moving goods from one or generating the goods but in terms of how that impact on you know the social frameworks um the poverty index and you know the the ability of you know people to respond to issues like education and health then we have more you know civil societies and ngos that are focused on this area in my presentation area i said there is really more need to drive away from just a government-led you know dialogue and engagement uh both from the china side and from the u.s side to incorporate more you know that uh arrangement between private sector and the csos uh civil society organizations and the ngos because each one of them has got different um capability different ability and it is needful that all of them can be able to work together for sustainability now if we talked about just you know financing and borrowing your own loans the way those loans are used to be able to drive maximum impact needs quite a lot of expertise from maybe the ngos um the civil society organizations which uh in my view you know china does not focus on this particular area so in that way i i believe that the participation or or the contribution that you know china and u.s are bringing to africa is very complementary in nature but really relies on us as africans to be able to tap into that expertise to tap into that opportunity to ensure that there is maximal impact in terms of when an infrastructure is being built what is the labor uh how does it translate to labor for the african people how does it translate to you know industrialization how do the you know institutional frameworks work together to ensure that this can translate to more education and more health uh readiness or impact for for our people so there is quite some capability needed in terms of um ensuring that that complementarity uh works thank you thank you ethan do you have anything to add to that we we can’t hear you once again sorry i’m muted i detect myself so um i think i quite agree with a whole lot of positions actually uh put forward here and um like like you rightly say you know the u.s has been doing so much in terms of security in africa and you see china doing a whole lot more and from the economic [Music] sector and um you know but you know i i you know i have a little bit a little problem with the chinese approach to security and which is you know that is one aspect that it is supposed to uh work on for instance you know i think if you have access to one of my publications on china’s role in africa’s peace and security you know examining the role of china in nigeria security you find out that the chinese you know when it comes to issues of security they’re relieved from they relate within a multilateral arrangement when it comes to issues that has to do with trade you know economics you know it is bilateral and in any case you see they don’t really want to get involved in on issues of security because they think you know it’s going to undermine that that there are policies of interference you know an intervention you know which is which in any case you could see them you know continue to do business in uh [Music] even in war-torn countries you know and they don’t even mind you know i think that’s one approach they actually need to change which is different from the way the united states approached so and uh and they are doing a whole lot in that in that in that in that sector in terms of security uh helping to mitigate terrorism and a whole lot of uh insurgency that’s ongoing not just in africa you know but across the world and i think that’s an april and an aspect that the chinese chinese need to change you know it’s not about building a military bases like they are they’re doing in djibouti and most most recently they are also trying to there was i raised it which another one they are trying to negotiate to build at the gulf of guinea you know and all that i think this uh which i don’t know what for but according to them is to protect the ceiling and all that but that is it goes beyond protecting the ceiling it goes beyond protecting the ceiling it it it security is very holistic it’s not just an aspect another i think that is an outfit that the chinese have to change but much more importantly um the united states should begin to engage africa from a different standpoint from a different perspective like i said they shouldn’t be on a partnership basis they should go beyond that and in terms of foreign aid i think um i think most of the criteria that has been put forward should be lessened because i think africa needs development africa needs you know development need to trickle down to the people i think this is what should actually determine our engagement us engagement with africa that is also what should determine even chinese engagement with africa that is what should determine any other power engagement with africa you see the whole idea of engagement you know is to make sure that every country you know there’s equity there’s equality there’s parity you know you know not the asymmetric kind of relationship that we we that some seeks that subsides uh right now and importantly too i think i would like to say that you know you see this whole idea of rivalry and competition that we are talking about you know it still boils down to resources now what is africa selling to all these powers it’s just commodities we are not commodities and that’s why when you talk about trade balance africa there’s no trade balance there can never be a trade balance when africa is only going to be selling commodities to the united states selling commodities to chinese we need to move beyond commodities we need to go into industrialization we need to start manufacturing you know i think we should have value addition to our goods and all that i think that’s the only way that we will begin to enjoy our relationship with the powers that be in africa irrespective of their distinguished disposition i think that’s what i have to say thank you thank you great great discussion um i’m gonna uh we have uh we just have so many great questions and we we’re gonna have to have a part two maybe a part three and part four of this but uh one of them i think is really really interesting and important and it uh it’s a comment and a question uh often the racist tensions that have accompanied chinese investments in africa like in zambia are swept under the carpet when discussion discussing the china-africa relationship why chinese and not other foreign investments and i’d also add to this um the the um what someone consider the issue of chinese immigration that follows in the wake of these uh of these uh these um chinese projects um but i’d also uh the questioner didn’t ask this i would add an addendum to this question which is have there been racist tensions associated with u.s projects and and programs in africa as well i don’t want to just focus on on china but also on the united states so um effin perhaps you’d like to start us on this one in case i just lobbed a grenade into the conversation say you know there are bits and pieces of issues of racism here and there which i i don’t think we can hide away from um it is there it is there but not uh not too glaring not too glaring uh but you know much recently uh what has actually taken the taking of taking the hype in the media is what that of china and africa especially what happened in china during the coveted 1919 pandemic era and again you know even within africa you know a lot of chinese companies it’s always there it’s always there you know um there are a lot of issues at least i’ve seen a couple of cases in court you know where africans are actually treated by uh even the chinese bosses you know in their companies and all that and so a whole lot of those kind of racist tendencies crop up sometimes another um for the united states i don’t think uh it is really i’ve not really seen any i’ve not heard of any uh i think uh it does not really crop up you know in that sense like it has crop up recently with the chinese i don’t think i’ve had any of uh with regards to the united states but you know i wouldn’t uh just rule it out anyway i think maybe it is some there but no i can’t be categorical okay thank you ethan uh mandira our beatrice would you like to take that on um i’m in the kind of the the same boat as if i’m here i you definitely you know they there are there are incidents and cases that have been reported and do come into the media but i think that especially uh speaking to the huang zhou um incidents during the early stages of covert and i think the way you know the african countries reacted and especially the leaders and i think it was nigeria if um you can correct me if i’m wrong but you know it kind of showed that you know at least at the at the leadership level you know africa is not is not going to kind of succumb to this colonial kind of mistreatment or whether africans are in china or whether you know the chinese are in africa treating africans not not well so i think at a leadership level at least um the fact that you know african countries were very quick to denounce what happened in guangzhou which showed that you know you can’t just kind of push us around um and yeah and you you still whether you have to engage fairly and i i think i i really approved the the kind of the response to the guangzhou incident um in terms of uh mandera why don’t you say a little bit more about the guangzhou incident because some of our listeners might not be familiar with oh sure so um in brief briefly um the it kind of turned into kind of a xenophobic uh kind of incident so guangzhou there’s quite a large african community that lives in guangzhou and um the when covert broke out they were kind of uh they were being mistreated by by chinese people and uh you know the landlords even wouldn’t let them let african people come back into the apartments and things because they were accusing them of carrying the virus and spreading the virus and all of that so it did turned into quite a racist and xenophobic issue but on the chinese side as well they were also responded that that they denounced that treatment and um you know the african african countries and especially nigeria is very vocal and i mean they even brought in the the chinese ambassador to nigeria to have discussions about it and so it’s um it it just turned into quite a i guess it was a based on ignorance fueling these kind of the mistreatment of of african people in guangzhou but the response was very robust and very uh very uh you know forthright in terms of how african countries responded to being to seeing african citizens treated quite uh badly in china but since that incident i have not come across or heard much about um you know the mistreatment of of um african people in in china so um i don’t know if fm or beatrice have anything else related to kobe 19 africa china situation thank you beatrice anything yeah um i i just really want to say uh sometimes speaking the same language helps a lot uh i mean i have met so many investors who maybe come from a country that originally speaks english and coming to work in east africa and most east africans speak english so it becomes pretty very easy in terms of the relationship and how you know they are able to carry their business it becomes a little bit very diffic difficult in that different terrain when you have a chinese investor that is that does not speak english or maybe there are a level of english that they speak is very limited so in terms of expression and in terms of communication and in terms of our kind of challenges or confrontations that could actually arise from this kind of conversations we we have seen this you know happen uh because of misunderstanding in terms of the communication but also there is um issues around cultural distance it is true that most africans have related with the u.s over very many periods of time a long period of time it is not the same that would speak about you know our friends from from china maybe or sometimes you find that the two societies are getting to familiarize with each other or getting to you know to understand each other i have had examples of you know investment chinese investments that were done in rural areas in africa and for the african people if there is a company in that area that company belongs to us all of us is the the society we are very communal in nature now this is not the same for that investor who comes in from you know i mean maybe china and you come over and everybody expects that they need to benefit uh from what you’re doing in your in your organization so there is you know cultural distances and you know um aspects that sometimes would actually lead to this kind of you know misunderstandings uh not to also say that you know labor issues i mean um i come from kenya and you know the the kind of uh um aspects of ilo international labor organizations that we signed to as kenya is very different from china so if that investor then didn’t understand this very well um could actually lead and has of course led to very ugly you know scenarios um so for me i think there is you know more opportunity to get to understand each other more and you know to really you know get to understand the other person’s perspective it may not purely be racism as we may see it but it could actually uh be propagated or precipitated by other um bigger or deposited aspects thank you thank you we are really coming to the end so i’m going to have a a lightning round and so very brief remarks but there are so many questions and so many good topics and one of them i can’t i can’t not address and that’s the issue of climate change and the different differing perspectives of china whereas the united states approach at least of the current administration is you know no more investments in fossil fuels and china on the other hand has a huge uh need for fossil energy and um africa is sometimes then in the middle of this and of course africa as we know has the second largest rain forest in the world and which is you know fears that it’s being depleted and has implications not only for africa but for the globe so again we have uh in 30 seconds if you can i’d like each of you to comment on this um and uh beatrice you’re up on my screen so why don’t you start okay i i go for it um it is true that you know for most countries that have industrialized there has been quite a high reliance on fossil fuels not to say that um that is the nature and the direction tha
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African views on U.S.-China competition in Africa

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