8 October 2018

Africa: Many Belts and Roads? Demystifying China's Africa Ambitions

analysis

There is no doubt that China's emergence as the world's second-largest economy and, particularly, its role in Africa, has shaken up the established order. No longer is the African continent seen as a problem to be solved by Western charity, but rather a business opportunity.

'One Belt, One Road.' Fortunately, it sounds more poetic in Chinese: Yi Dai Yi Lu.

Still, it's a bit confusing, because OBR or Belt Road, as it's become known, is not really a road at all, but rather a project that spans several land and maritime corridors, linking Asia to Europe, the Middle East and East Africa. First announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013, nearly 70 countries have since signed up.

The OBR promises to be the largest infrastructure initiative ever launched, some $900-billion, aiming to create what the Chinese call a "modern Silk Road" trading route involving two-thirds of the world's population, much more ambitious than even the gold-standard post-war Marshall Plan, which provided $136-billion in today's money to 17 countries in Western Europe.

With a plan to engage some five billion people to promote what Xi Jinping says is a "new-type of industrialisation",...

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