As leaders meet today in Beijing for the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit, the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) has charged representatives of the continent to ensure that the engagements are mutually beneficial.
In a statement, the IPPA said: "The key economic considerations that have shaped China-Africa relations are mainly loans, development assistance and debt cancellations, and trade.
The summit will more likely be used by China to offer new rounds of billions of dollars in loans and aid to African countries amidst rising debts."
The IPPA expressed worry that some African countries which are recipients of China's foreign loan and aid are already mired in debt.
"These countries are either restructuring their debts or negotiating another round of loans.
Already, some African countries are seeking funding from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of their inability to pay back the Chinese.
"Loans and aid dependency from China will make growth elusive and alter the bottom up economic growth strategy in Africa.
Instead, Africa should seek an increase in trade level comparable to China's trade partners in Asia whose trade volume is five times higher than trade with Africa," said Thompson Ayodele, senior research fellow with IPPA.
According to him, "The central criteria of China's FTAs include achieving "One China" policy; recognition of China as a market economy; achieving access to raw materials; and maintaining and strengthening its political and diplomatic relations.
Many African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, and South Africa meet these criteria with which China signs FTAs.
"But Africa is at the fringe of China's foreign trade and economic policies.
Two Chinese agencies, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, merely execute decisions reached by the Politburo Standing Committee, the supreme decision-making authority in China.
These agencies cannot make decisions on behalf of the Chinese government to commit to trade with Africa.
"China-Africa FTAs will need to overcome significant political and economic obstacles because the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) must approve FTAs regarding specific countries or regions of the world.
Unfortunately, issues relating to Africa such FTA are rarely discussed at the PSC."