China has been undertaking large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa to benefit Chinese Private-Sector Companies consequently exploiting the continent and its inhabitants thus pushing the local entrepreneurs to the margins.
The main intention behind undertaking such infrastructure projects is to benefit the Chinese Private-Sector Companies (PSCs). And PSC has already started its plan as it has transitioned from 'going to Africa', to 'settling in Africa', to 'setting down roots in Africa', according to Geopolitica.info citing a report titled 'Market Power and Role of the Private Sector' published by 'China-Africa Business Council'.
The evolution towards 'settling down roots in Africa', was witnessed with a whopping 70 per cent share of total Chinese investments in Africa in 2019, with 90 per cent of the Chinese companies operating in Africa were owned by private entrepreneurs. The investments have mostly concentrated in transport infrastructure, mining, manufacturing, construction and services.
These investments have forced the African countries to export the raw material for their production processes and through China's 'Belt and Road Initiative' for moving the minerals and natural resources, as feedstock for Chinese industries.
And this has led to the depletion of African raw materials at a very fast pace. It is pertinent to mention that in the 'China-Africa Research Initiative' report, China took a huge amount of oil and other mineral resources out of Africa. Angola, Libya, Gabon, Republic of Congo (RoC), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa (SA) account for 68 per cent of their total exports to China. Angola and Libya export oil; Gabon oil and manganese; RoC oil and other minerals; DRC cobalt and copper; and SA platinum and iron & steel. Backed by the Chinese propaganda machinery, a narrative is being played projecting the PSCs as 'engines for job creation and growth' in Africa.
It is also being claimed that PSCs have an important role in the transfer of skills, knowledge and technology to Africa while upholding the dignity of African labour.
On the contrary, it has been observed that Chinese PSCs do not source from local firms, employ few Africans and have poor track records with respect for labourers as well as the environment.
According to the publication, the African government should look into the open violations being carried out by the Chinese PSCs, who falsely claim to have been 'messiahs' of growth for Africa but have scant or no regard for local labour and environmental laws, human rights. Earlier, the Southern African nation, Zambia, cancelled USD 1.6 billion in Chinese loans which saved them from falling into the Chinese debt trap.
Debt trap diplomacy is a deceptive method adopted by China under the BRI scheme wherein the Chinese first lend huge monies under opaque loan terms to unsuspecting developing nations in the garb of development only to strategically leverage the recipient country's indebtedness for its own economic, military, or political ends or to seize its assets as a means of repayment.
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