The growth of Chinese investment in Africa over the past two decades has been unprecedented and unparalleled. Despite what one might believe, China is not the leading foreign investor in Africa, nor is it the biggest donor. Both honors still belong to the US. What makes China’s presence different from that of the rest of the world, is that it’s physical, and thus, visible.
China has become the builder of a modern Africa, with its state banks providing loans and its state-owned companies constructing roads, bridges, railways, dams, airports, industrial parks and ports all over the continent. In 2018, China was the single largest financier of African infrastructure, funding one in five projects and constructing one in three.
For those in Africa, it’s hard not to notice a new bridge being built in the neighborhood, or a new airport terminal under construction. These giant structures sprawling from city centers to rural areas are visible—even from space.