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Chinese investments in Africa: Exploring the developmental potential

The global economic architecture has in recent decades undergone a significant level of reconfiguration in terms of trade and investments as a result of the emergence of China as a direct competitor to highly industrialised countries of the North. Trade and investment patterns show that, while the highly industrialised states of the United States of America and Western Europe combined still command a significant proportion of trade-share with Africa, investment is showing a different trend. In relation to investment, China has emerged as a major financier of investments in land, agriculture, mining and other infrastructural projects in Africa, raising debates about the potential of these investments in facilitating meaningful development on the African continent. Without doubt, these investments have occurred with the active support and involvement of African states. However, some critics of Chinese investments argue that their loans and the debts generated place many African countries in an unsustainable debt burden, while others are quick to claim that Chinese investments entail a new recolonisation phase in the history of Africa. Factors such as the reported land displacements of the peasantry and dehumanising labour conditions in sectors where the Chinese employ locals have been cited by critics of Sino-Africa relations in pursuing the “recolonising” argument. While this study problematises the prospects for development in the context of Chinese investments in Africa, it also seeks to delineate the alternative development paths which may be made possible for Africa through its investment links with China, particularly given the ongoing dominance of the neoliberal world order.


Fellows involved in this project

Iso Lomso visiting scholar

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Related publications

Book/Book Chapter

Mazwi, Freedom, George T. Mudimu and Kirk Helliker. (Eds.). 2024. Chinese Investment in Africa. Springer International Publishing.


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