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Beijing, a Boon for Africa -

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IN June 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech in Zambia warning of a “new colonialism” threatening the African continent. “We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” she said, in a thinly veiled swipe at China.

In 2009, China became Africa’s single largest trading partner, surpassing the United States. And China’s foreign direct investment in Africa has skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2011.


A 2007 Pew Research Center survey of 10 sub-Saharan African countries found that Africans overwhelmingly viewed Chinese economic growth as beneficial. In virtually all countries surveyed, China’s involvement was viewed in a much more positive light than America’s; in Senegal, 86 percent said China’s role in their country helped make things better, compared with 56 percent who felt that way about America’s role. In Kenya, 91 percent of respondents said they believed China’s influence was positive, versus only 74 percent for the United States.


With approximately 60 percent of Africa’s population under age 24, foreign investment and job creation are the only forces that can reduce poverty and stave off the sort of political upheaval that has swept the Arab world.




1. Africans think China is a better influence on them than America.

2. More than half of Africa is under 24.

These were both news to me.

2 was news, 1 was not surprising -- until now, though, I only had qualitative data to support my assumption.

My sister wrote a paper titled the 21st century and the rise of multi-nationals as nation-states; asserting that multi-national corporations effectively act as pseudo-governments. Secretary Clinton may not like how rapidly and effectively China is acquiring natural resources, but the simple fact of the matter is, there is a strong perception that the Chinese state treats sub-Saharan African nationals much better than their American multi-national counterparts.

If we want to compete as a country in the 21st century, we -- and our american-run multi-nationals -- are going to have to treat global citizens with much more respect.

And finally a story from my father, a petroleum engineering professor, told me.

Dad: I asked a former western oil company executive why they failed to clean up oil spills in a certain west African nation and other regions. His response? "It's cheaper to pay off government interests than to do the right thing."

With an attitude like that, it's no wonder why so many Africans prefer their Chinese partners to their American ones.

Another interesting aside.

I once read that more oil is spilled every year in the Niger Delta region, located in Nigeria, by western oil companies than the entire Deepwater horizon spill combined.

Every year.

Nobody, mind you, is cleaning it up. When we lose our respect for the humanity in others, they lose their trust in us.

We can do better. Nay, we have to do better.

It's odd how much damage corporations that drill are allowed to get away with. Your dad's story illustrates that.

I'm no geologist but I still believe that more drilling causes more earthquakes. How could it not?

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