Africa’s choice

I have no problem with this:

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has said he prefers Chinese to Western aid as it comes with fewer conditions.

It has been abundantly clear for years now that, in the main, Africans can’t stand Europeans and Americans. Several reasons are cited for this, the principle ones being Africa’s treatment at the hands of European colonial powers, the racism of white people towards Africans, and the manner in which western companies exploit Africa. This is why, every time an African leader such as Robert Mugabe delivers an impassioned speech denouncing the west, he is given a standing ovation by his peers. I therefore think it is high time European countries left Africa well alone, quit with the neo-colonialist moralising, and sorted out the mess in their own countries. China seems more than willing to fill any gap left by a European and American withdrawal from the continent, and Africans seem to think they will be treated better by their new partners. Good luck to all concerned is what I say.

China has become a major investor in Africa, challenging Western influence on the continent.

It has promised to spend $60bn in investment, aid and loans in Africa over the next three years, mostly in infrastructure development.

What’s there to dislike?

“The thing that makes you happy about their aid is that it is not tied to any conditions. When they decide to give you, they just give you,” Mr Magufuli said.

I doubt this is true and Mr Magufuli hasn’t read the small print about military bases, mineral rights, and work permits for Chinese nationals, but who am I to argue?

On 15 November, Denmark said it had suspended $9.8m (£7.5m) in aid because of “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a Tanzanian politician.

I thought the era of the white man telling Africans what to say and how to think was over, but apparently not.

The European Union (EU) is currently the East African state’s biggest development partner, giving aid of more than $88m annually.

If the Chinese are willing to match this, and Tanzania’s government is happier to work with the Chinese, then where’s the downside?

The EU announced earlier this month that it was reviewing its policy towards Tanzania because of concerns about the rights of gay people and restrictions on civil society groups.

Not decades of kleptocracy, then?

Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania.

There was a time when European overlords would travel to the dark continent and force the local population to abandon their savage ways and embrace western moral values. Then that sort of thing went out of fashion, but it seems it’s coming back. Which leaves me with a question: is it okay to start wearing my pith helmet again?

The World Bank has put on hold a $300m loan for an educational project, partly in response to the government’s decision to expel schoolgirls who become pregnant.

I dunno, maybe the government is trying to dissuade schoolgirls from getting pregnant? How’s western policy regarding teenage pregnancies, incentives, and educational outcomes holding up?

Young mothers would be distracted if they were allowed back in school, Mr Magufuli said in a controversial speech last year.

“After calculating some few mathematics, she’d be asking the teacher in the classroom: ‘Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby,'” he added.

How uncouth! It’s almost as if these swarthy folk down there need civilising. I don’t suppose just leaving Africans to run their own societies is on the table, is it? Little wonder the Chinese are looking attractive. They might run off with Africa’s entire supply of minerals but at least the locals will be spared lectures on their lack of moral virtue. I can’t imagine any amount of aid money is worth that.

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35 thoughts on “Africa’s choice

  1. From what I’ve heard, the Chinese are not exactly known for their sense of racial equality. They aren’t going to be rude to the face of the President of the country, but perhaps he might ask a few of his countrymen down at the coal face how they get on………….or maybe its more about the personal – Mr President doesn’t like being personally told by Western donors to stop being a homophobe, so prefers to take money of people who butter him up but behave like the worst colonialists to everyone below him. Stuff the workers, I just want to be treated like the Big I Am.

  2. From what I’ve heard, the Chinese are not exactly known for their sense of racial equality.

    If I were an investor, I’d go long on tiny violins.

  3. The first European colonialists were good for Africa, when they first arrived the local tribes didn’t even know that wheels had been invented. From what I have seen in Africa what is left of European colonial influence is generally good, society, order, rule of law, infrastructure, architecture, education, medicine and hospitals, development and wealth.

    Those days are over now just as the empires that the European colonists hailed from are. The whys and wherefores of this can be debated but the fact of the matter is that they are over.

    My view is that Africa does need external investment and expertise to get things done, and I think the average African person does want things to be done, they want iPhones, they want power to charge it, they want to switch lights on at night, they want sewer, they want mains water, they want what we in the west have taken for granted since the fifties and they are now at the stage of their economic cycle whereby manufacturing is poised to add massive value.

    What I have seen of Chinese influence is good, I am talking construction here, big schemes, big developments, big economic impacts, no military trade off. Chinese investment is unparalleled and huge in size, sure their Chinese workforce may stay in their host country once their projects are complete, sure there will be procurement preferences for Chinese firms aligned with the investors, sure there will be something else somewhere that may be questionable with such a large invasion of a foreign culture, mechanical means and big money investment, but overall I don’t see a problem.

    I spent a bit of time in Maputo (Lourenço Marques) Mozambique and was reading up on it’s Portuguese colonial history at the time and doing the cultural walk about thing in my spare time when I was there. The Portuguese legacy was very impressive and lasting but in parallel with this I seen an awful lot of Chinese people, services, construction and integration taking place as well. I seen them building very nice apartment blocks for their workers, they had the full spectrum of contract staff from senior managers right down to labourers, the senior staff and their wives would frequent the same bars and restaurants that I did, and I got to say it all appeared pretty good to me, as long as they could smoke inside. I also noticed that the firm that was driving water trucks and the crews around town and stopping to water the well-kept garden strips in the medians and roundabouts was a major well know Chinese engineering contractor whose name escapes me that you would never ever have thought would have the contract to maintain roadside vegetation in Maputo.

    Africa’s best days may yet lie ahead of it.

  4. As you point out, Tim, the now decades long Chinese investments into Africa are unlikely to come without consequences.

    It’s the modern form of 18th and 19th century colonialism.

    If you are an African reading this and you have a spare few minutes, go to Google and get a list of the top 50 countries in the world by GDP and then rank them in order of preference on the basis that, if you’re going to be a vassal state, which country would be the most beneficial or least bad “owner”. Uncomfortable with your results?

  5. This stuff is nuts.

    We used to arrest gays. We used to put pregnant girls into specialist schools.

    We changed. Please, seriously, can someone reflect on that and ask why we changed, what is about.

    The gay thing is thought to be about religion, but that’s a misreading. Religion reflects society. And homophobia was mostly about people who lived dangerous lives wanting high trust. Miners and military people didn’t like gays because they depended on the next guy to keep them alive. They wanted to know they could trust them. And this went beyond sexiality – accent, clothing, everything.

    You have to accept that there’s stages to development. I see these programmes about feminism and women working in places that are still poor, where it still makes sense to have traditional labour roles. It makes no sense. In a generation they’ll be richer and maybe it’ll make sense.

  6. Funny isn’t it that our betters think that Africans are primitives to be lectured to but at the same time of such benefit to our society that we need to import them?

    I would be more than happy to cease all aid to Africa, perhaps spending some of the money saved on a fleet of gunboats to sink people-smuggling ships. Or perhaps used to help some of London’s Africans go home to take advantage of the bright Sino-African future.

    Best of luck to the Chinese, they are smart cookies. They have seen Africa’s manifest failure to civilise over the past few hundred years and will know better than to try. They will also have spotted how ungrateful the natives are so I fully expect them to have all sorts of small print.

  7. Bon M4 puts it well.
    This is a bit speculative but…
    Functioning societies find ways to limit their birth rates.
    The commonest way is to have crippling bride prices and elaborate dowries and marriage ceremonies.
    This leads to late marriage, i.e. a lower birth rate.
    Of course, you then have to deal with a cohort of deprived young men, and the way to contain their frustration is homosexuality.
    Along come the Europeans and ban this safety valve. No surprise that the society goes to hell.
    And now we want to allow homosexuality (divorced from its original purpose) and promote early pregnancy.
    While at the same time, lamenting Africa’s unsustainable birth rate.

  8. Bardon’s view of Africa is typical of the outsider just visiting for a short time cosseted in a fancy hotel and enjoying the security that goes with it.

    Try living there.

  9. Bardon’s view of Africa is typical of the outsider just visiting for a short time cosseted in a fancy hotel and enjoying the security that goes with it.

    Heh.

  10. @Henry – “Bardon’s view of Africa is typical of the outsider just visiting for a short time cosseted in a fancy hotel and enjoying the security that goes with it.

    Try living there.”

    There are two Africa’s an inner city nice hotel type one, characterised by outsider business people that are visiting Africa because they have business there, are taking risk there in order to exploit economic opportunities there, they tend to have higher incomes, are there by choice and being foreign and an investor they understand foreign investment risk. The other Africa is an outer ring mortgage belt struggler type one, characterised by lower socio economic locals, fewer jobs, lower wages, longer commute times, poorer amenity, and social infrastructure and services that lag way behind the first type.

    The first outsider type has a view on external Chinese investment, the second insider type don’t and merely dislike the view that the first type hold on inward Chinese investment.

    Try living in the first type, then you would understand and have an informed view on foreign investment into Africa.

  11. challenging Western influence on the continent

    And pray tell us, what has the West gained from decades of influence on that continent?

  12. Perhaps it is just my family (doubtful) but my Chinese relatives views on Africans make mine seem benign and I thought I was hardcore.

  13. Oh Bardon, you are trying to make a point to someone who grew up in Africa, who served in the armed forces running clinics in some of the remotest villages on the South West African border with Angola, and walked foot patrols in Soweto and the KTC squatter camps after the ANC thugs had been through necklacing and stoning “collaborators”. I don’t think I need lectures on living the African dream thank you very much.

  14. To Bardon and Crun. I also live in Africa. There are politicians and academics (who are politicians in disguise) who proclaim to hate the West but nonetheless love their Mercedes and single malts. Let’s face it, nobody knows how to make a suit like the Italians. The other ninety-nine per cent of the African population (including white cynics like me) thinks that the North Atlantic nations are great and as soon as we can afford to, most of us skip the country to enjoy the fleshpots of the West. (The ones that can afford to, but stay, are too deeply tapped into the gravy train and would lose too much by emigrating.)

    Chinese investors were hard at work creating a new megacity at Modderfontein, an unmemorable spot in the East Rand neighbourhood of Gauteng. Then our Beloved Leader Cyril opened his fat mouth and announced expropriation without compensation. Although it has since become far cheaper to invest in South Africa, thanks to the currency crash, the Chinese have put on the brakes. It seems that they do have conditions and that when they pay bribes, they expect the recipients to keep to their side of the bargain.

  15. “The thing that makes you happy about their aid is that it is not tied to any conditions. When they decide to give you, they just give you,” Mr Magufuli said.

    Translation: The Chinese give me bigger bribes.

  16. “Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has said he prefers Chinese to Western aid as it comes with fewer conditions.”

    Fewer conditions doesn’t mean no conditions. One of those conditions will be that the Chinese get their pound of flesh.

    Jim,

    “From what I’ve heard, the Chinese are not exactly known for their sense of racial equality.”

    I did a couple of projects in India and a long one in SA with colleagues from our HK office. They were liberal by mainland standards but really looked down on both Indians and blacks and on one occasion in India I saw one wiping his hands after shaking hands with an Indian.

  17. “The thing that makes you happy about their aid is that it is not tied to any conditions. When they decide to give you, they just give you,” Mr Magufuli said.

    Translation: The Chinese give me bigger bribes.

    ========
    Further translation: And no FemiNazis

  18. The Chinese have a habit of importing their own workforce into international projects, rather than using locals for anything other than menial tasks (toilets have to be cleaned by someone), so the improvements in the lives of other than the beurocrats accepting the bribes, sorry, local taxes, will not become apparent immediately, if at all. By the time this is realised, the ex Presidents and other members of the ruling parties will have retired to Switzerland with their millions.

  19. No question colonialism brought great practical benefits to africans. No more slavery, writing, arithmetic, wheeled transport, railways, bridges, farming technology, mining technology, medicine, law.
    The only Africans who lost out were the rulers and wannabe rulers.
    Those latter sought independence and now have it. Independence means what it says – including no need for help
    Hence Africa according to its leaders needs no help, and we should respect their wishes. No more aid. And their gaff, their rules, we should respect their rules. Or honestly colonise them if we deem them incapable of managing themselves properly.
    Western aid to Africa has been copious and totally useless. Hence it should cease. It has also been used as a lever to get Africans to do what we, or at least our “elites” want. Attitudes to sex have been mentioned, as have western attitudes to bribery, but western insistence on expensive unreliable green energy is another aspect.
    I suspect that the Chinese look on their *aid” as an investment intended to produce a tangible return, whereas western aid is a form of virtue signalling.

  20. Western aid to Africa has been copious and totally useless. Hence it should cease.

    Absolutely. Perhaps most pernicious in their effects have been the various vaccination programs, enabling unsustainable population growth. The fertility rates in the Sahel region are absurd. Mother Nature should be allowed free reign.

  21. @MvR – “cheaper to invest in South Africa, thanks to the currency crash, the Chinese have put on the brakes”

    Every nation has put the brakes on investing in South Africa, we pulled out earlier this year. SA is fucked and getting worse, time to reduce your emergency response teams, response time.

  22. @Henry Crun

    Like I said before you are a type 2, that doesn’t have a view on Chinese investment and don’t like what type 1’s views are on foreign investment either.

  23. Type 1/Type 2 theories notwithstanding people – the Chinese included – don’t invest in Africa because they believe in its bright future but because of the good stuff that comes out of the ground.

  24. @MC

    Yep no problem with that, everybody invests and risks their capital for a return.

    Although I will say that a lot of what I seen the Chinese doing was not mineral extraction related, it was power plants, road and bridge infrastructure, water supply pipelines, sewerage systems, buildings and the like. Thats why I mentioned that they were actually doing the maintenance of the road side vegetation strips in Maputo, to a high standard I might add, just out there really. That might be because I wasn’t exposed to the mining or hydrocarbon extraction sector in Africa though, other than a civil part of an offshore/onshore gas field processing plant for an Italian contractor.

    If you look at the One Belt One Road then that is all about providing infrastructure to stimulate trade and economic growth, yes there will be some additional mineral exploitation as a result of this but that is not the primary purpose of that scheme.

  25. Kim Du Toit said it 16 years ago:

    http://www.kimdutoit.com/2017/05/05/let-africa-sink/

    http://www.kimdutoit.com/2017/12/18/bad-things/

    And Peter Grant chips in with another perspective:

    https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2017/08/superstition-and-murder-africa-strikes.html

    And another:

    https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/01/what_i_learned_in_peace_corps_in_africa_trump_is_right.html

    The place needs to be left alone to sink or swim by itself. 70 years after independence of the countries concerned should surely be enough.

  26. By getting out of Africa, Western nations reduce the supply of grievance the domestic identity politics/grievance industry has to sell. It will be offset to some degree by the identity politics professionals reformulating grievance to use the Chinese as a key ingredient, but it won’t be as potent. Like all forms of professional lobbying, when the basis of it recedes, the lobbyists don’t make themselves redundant, they just reimagine the problem in a way that requires them getting even more money with even fewer assessments of tangible benefit delivered.

    As a side point, political legitimacy comes in different forms, for Westerners concepts like democracy and the absence of corruption are seen as legitimacy, but elsewhere may be different. For the likes of Mugabe their legitimacy comes from being ‘anti-imperialist’, as a result every problem is framed as ‘imperialism’ to which an ‘anti-imperialist’ leader is the resolution. Your leader elected through a rigged ballot sits on a solid gold toilet whilst you starve due to inept economic policies? The problem is not corruption or lack of democracy, the problem is clearly ‘imperialism’ and luckily your leader, on his solid gold toilet, is an ‘anti-imperialist’ bravely challenging ‘imperialism’.

  27. ….served in the armed forces running clinics in some of the remotest villages on the South West African border 

    How did that work out then…

    ….after the ANC thugs had been through necklacing and stoning “collaborators”.

    They won and you’re a loser. They are in power and about to finish the job, you’re preaching about what a good boy you were and complaining that they cheated.
    Sounds an awful lot like loser talk to me.

  28. Iain, point one: On the SWA border the armed forces were providing inoculation and health care services that not even the Red Cross were willing to provide.
    Point 2: Yeah, the thugs and gangsters won. Not militarily, I might add, but because the politicians knew the game was up and if they wanted to stay in the international fold they would have to share power with the strongest bunch of gangsters. That’s worked out well hasn’t it.

    Ngabe wazini? Zonke falagile abalungu.

  29. On 15 November, Denmark said it had suspended $9.8m (£7.5m) in aid because of “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a Tanzanian politician.

    Does this not strike any of you as strange.?
    Actually helping real people less important than the feelings of homosexuals. Why are LGBT rights the highest value of western civilisation?

    Is this our new religion?

  30. Having worked in many underground and open cut mines in PNG, Indonesia, Australia, Freeport (Irian Jaya) in previous life’s the question of African mineral extraction by Chinese from Africa piqued my interest.

    From what I can find which is about two years old the majority by far of mineral importation is from Sth Africa. Importation of minerals by value into China, ranked by highest $ value, first was Australia followed by Brazil, Chile, Peru, and then Sth Africa at fifth, with Australian imports being about eight times higher than Sth African imports, the report shows other smaller imports from other African nations.

    It appears that the Chinese do this through acquisition of Sth African mining companies, not sure if they then change out the work force with Chinese staff, but based on my firms visa restrictions we faced with bringing foreign construction staff in to work in SA I wouldn’t think that they can bring in as much as they do with infrastructure construction crew that I have seen in other African nations. The South African mining sector is in dire starts with the shootings, black empowerment and the 30% royalty grab that is going on and being appealed right now.

    I would imagine that productivity is down based on that and now that commodity prices are recovering you would expect volumes to start increasing, but personal speaking I wouldn’t be investing in a South African mine for all tea in China.

    So hats off to any Chinese investors that are brave enough to take the risk, and here hoping they make a motza by doing so.

    https://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/CHN/Year/2015/TradeFlow/Import/Partner/by-country/Product/25-26_Minerals/Show/Partner%20Name;MPRT-TRD-VL;MPRT-PRDCT-SHR;AHS-WGHTD-AVRG;MFN-WGHTD-AVRG;/Sort/MPRT-PRDCT-SHR/Chart/top10

  31. “Does this not strike any of you as strange.?”

    Yes, absolutely, not only strange, but completely wrong on every level and from all aspects. So just to let you know that there are plenty of good guys that are still out here and on the same page as you.

    Officially we are still a Christian culture but that is being turned on its head with this kind of rubbish, if you look at the political leadership of Europe the majority of its leaders are either gay, barren, or straight with kids and very pro LGBT.

    On topic here, they talk about genital mutilation by immigrants that have had this rightly or wrongly as part of their culture since Adam was a boy as being a major threat to their society.

    Yet they are pulling out the stops, and are encouraging and making it as easy as possible for young males to opt for a sex change, they can do this before they can vote. I seen some pictures recently of what is involved in this, it aint pretty, and if that is not genital mutilation of the worst order then I am missing the plot.

    At least the Chinese after many years of totalitarianism, are now free of tyranny and are having a cultural revival and going the opposite way of the West when it comes to morals, standards and lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty in a very short time frame.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………..

    Caution: this article is not very pleasant and may offend your manhood.

    My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy
    And it shouldn’t have to.

    Next Thursday, I will get a vagina. The procedure will last around six hours, and I will be in recovery for at least three months. Until the day I die, my body will regard the vagina as a wound; as a result, it will require regular, painful attention to maintain. This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier. In fact, I don’t expect it to. That shouldn’t disqualify me from getting it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/24/opinion/sunday/vaginoplasty-transgender-medicine.html

  32. Chinese investment in Africa is definitely not about minerals, they are important but are not the main focus of inward Chinese investment, far from it. Its typically infrastructure and they will continue to break into other new sectors, manufacturing is definitely the stand out huge opportunity in Africa now, their economy is at the right stage of development for this phase of their cycle and if anyone can get it done it will be the Chinese. The mineral slice of the pie will therefore continue to shrink relative to total investment value.

    Plus the Africans are genuinely warming to the Chinese because they are neither missionaries, mercenaries nor misfits.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………..

    The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

    Chinese firms operate across many sectors of the African economy. Nearly a third are involved in manufacturing, a quarter in services, and around a fifth each in trade and in construction and real estate. In manufacturing, we estimate that 12 percent of Africa’s industrial production—valued at some $500 billion a year in total—is already handled by Chinese firms. In infrastructure, Chinese firms’ dominance is even more pronounced, and they claim nearly 50 percent of Africa’s internationally contracted construction market.

    The Chinese firms we talked to are mostly profitable. Nearly one-third reported 2015 profit margins of more than 20 percent. They are also agile and quick to adapt to new opportunities. Except in a few countries such as Ethiopia, they are primarily focused on serving the needs of Africa’s fast-growing markets rather than on exports. An overwhelming 74 percent said they feel optimistic about the future. Reflecting this, most Chinese firms have made investments that represent a long-term commitment to Africa rather than trading or contracting activities.

    https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/middle-east-and-africa/the-closest-look-yet-at-chinese-economic-engagement-in-africa

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  34. Henry, please forgive my belated reply.

    On the SWA border the armed forces were providing inoculation and health care services that not even the Red Cross were willing to provide.

    Henry, why were the SADF up there losing blood and gold? Are you trying to tell me that the SADF were a more humanitarian organisation than a organisation of professional humanitarian busybodies? Do you beleive this? What do you think the strategic objective was?

    ….and gangsters….

    Gangsters too now, oh oh call the cops.

    What are gangsters? I would argue that there is significant overlap between gangster, irregular and insurgent and really what matters most is whether you are in a state of war or not. Stalin robbed banks, Nazi propaganda portrayed Churchill a Tommygun toting terrorist.

    Not militarily, I might add, but because the politicians knew the game was up and if they wanted to stay in the international fold

    Yes!!!! But what if stay in the international fold is just euphemism for sell you out to the American empire. What if militarily now encompases 4GW. Look, you were there and I’m just some keyboard warrior who sees SA as a case study in the suicidal naivety of Europeans.
    But you were there. To me this is fascinating. What would you have considered a victory?

    The status quo?

    Surley unsustainable but then what. Meant nothing personal with the loser comment, no doubt the last sentance was reply in kind.

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