By Abdi Latif Dahir
From the article:
Leaders from all African nations, except for eSwatini, attended the 2018 Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing this past week. There, Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion to the continent in loans, grants, and development financing. Xi also announced eight initiatives aimed at improving Sino-Africa relations, including investments in healthcare, education, security, cultural exchanges, and increasing non-resource imports from Africa.
The conference happened against a backdrop of growing scrutiny of Beijing’s lending practices. Critics have argued that China’s Belt and Road initiative, modeled on the old Silk Road, was a giant “debt trap” and akin to “neocolonialism.” Observers also noted the Asian superpower wasn’t being straightforward about whether it fulfilled all the amounts it previously committed to African states. The $60 billion financial commitment in 2018 was also an aberration from China’s pattern to double or triple pledges every three years: from $5 billion in 2006 to $60 billion in 2015.
Given all this, China might become “stringent” and cautious in extending loans to Africa, says Gyude Moore, a former Liberian minister and a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington DC. And while China has always provided quick, no-strings-attached loans that set fewer conditions to African states, Moore says that’s going to be difficult to undertake if Beijing “is also saying that they are going to do projects that are sustainable.”
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