Why is the West accusing China for being the major beneficiary of the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI)? Has China not picked a page from them? Why would China initiate the BRI and lose out. It is an economic project and China is no Father Christmas. The call for transparency is fine but who determines what is transparent and what is not?
Countries signing on to the project are happy to receive Chinese funds. They only complain when payment is due. This is a bit reckless. The appropriate step would be for nations to positions the projects in the context of their long term national development vision. In the absence of such steps, many nations are now debt saddled in project which do not have direct and immediate impact on their economy.
Is China being aggressive in its push? Of course yes but that not exonerate, especially, corrupt African leaders who pad the costs of projects to enrich themselves.
Washington’s uneasiness about the BRI is understandable: it is about power and geopolitical considerations so African leaders must be careful pandering to Washington. It is never about the interest of Africa. After all Washington has been behind every bitter and unnecessary pill the World and the IMF have pushed down the throats of African nations which for over 30years which have made African economies worse.
A wise African nation can make more from Chinese investment in five years than what it would have gained from World Bank or the IMF over the past decades. It is all about being smart about the projects the nation accepts and utilising funds appropriated effectively.
Beijing is no Father Christmas so African leaders must be smart in their dealings and overtures towards the Chinese loans and the BRI. What is worrying is for African leaders to listen to the cautionary tale of people who looted their natural resource, imposed corrupt leaders on them, destroyed their institutions and rendered them poor through neo-colonial control tools.
Africa is in a position to benefit from the BRI and auxiliary Chinese investments if we would wise up.
How many African nations have vision plans reflective of the directions of major economic powers? China is following it 5-5year economic development plan of which the BRI is part of the vehicles to achieve so. What about Africa? Some countries are standing out: Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda, Kenya and a few.
Sub-Saharan africa is still lamenting the effects of colonialism and looking up for a saviour to save them when all that it needs are under its feet. Perhaps the biggest flop of all is Nigeria. A nation with so much to have lifted a region up.
African leaders must not take loans for loans sake. Loans should be applied to the letter with specific project in the context of an overall Vision Plan, otherwise, we would lose out as we did with the World Bank and IMF. Our leaders must have foresight as they push to walk their long talk on development. It’s embarrassing speaking of development when in actual terms so little is being done.
The first decade of the 21st century is almost up. If we are to take stock, we would rather blame ourselves than China and her BRI.
Author and Speaker