Dear Quartz members—
This week we dive into the future of China in Africa. Quartz has covered this topic obsessively since launching our Quartz Africa edition in 2015, and this week our newsroom is publishing a comprehensive assessment of China’s presence on the continent, and where things are headed.
At home, China has pulled off the seemingly impossible: since initiating market reforms in 1978, it has lifted more than 850 million people out of poverty and grown its gross domestic product by nearly 10% annually—a pace the World Bank describes as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” In the process, China built lots of roads, ports, power plants, and factories to boost its global competitiveness.
With its “Go Out” policy in 1999, China sought to shape the changing world by further opening up its economy, exporting its business practices and promoting its image abroad. Chinese state-owned enterprises were immediately drawn to Africa as a supplier of raw materials, a lucrative export market for their goods, and an outlet for their surplus capital.
In just over two decades, China has grown to become the biggest foreign player on the continent. It is now Africa’s largest trade partner, its largest infrastructure funder, and its fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment, pledging $60 billion in 2018 versus just $5 billion in 2006. Top officials from China regularly tour the continent, with premiers and foreign ministers making 79 visits to 43 different states between 2007 and 2017, according to consultancy Development Reimagined.
With a burgeoning population, rapid urbanization, abundant resources, and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, many observers have remarked that this will be the African century. If that’s to be achieved, China will play a major role in making that a reality. But Beijing will do so not just out of altruism but knowing full well that the road to its global dominance runs through Africa.
You read our new state of play analysis of China in Africa, an examination of the myths and realities of China’s lending practices on the continent, and a zoom in on the instructive tale of a China-built railway in Kenya. We’ll publish more on the topic during the week.
TO DISCUSS WITH FRIENDS OVER DINNER…
Here are a few conversation starters from our guide:
- Chinese financiers hold 77% of Djibouti’s debt, raising concerns about whether new and future projects can generate sufficient revenue to meet debt service requirements.
- In his 2014 book China’s Second Continent, journalist Howard French put the number of Chinese citizens who have moved to Africa at around 1 million.
- Last December, the Trump administration unveiled its Africa policy that was all about countering China’s influence. While there’s been a longstanding competition for influence between superpowers in the region, the implication of the new US policy is that African governments need to choose between the US and China. Forced to choose, which way will they go?
…OR WITH US, ON THURSDAY, ON THIS CALL
Join us for a discussion on Thursday at 11am EDT/4pm BST with Quartz Africa editor Yinka Adegoke and reporter Abdi Latif Dahir, where they’ll walk through the state of China’s presence in Africa, and where it’s heading. We’ll be taking questions and comments live on the video conference call, accessible at the usual location.
If you’d like to dial in, use the following numbers: UK 0800-014 8469, USA 866-226 4650. For both numbers, the access code is 722 994 440.
OTHER MEMBER CALLS THIS WEEK
On Tuesday, at the usual 11am EDT/4pm BST time and the dial-in numbers above, you can join me and reporter Annabelle Timsit for a discussion of the reporting behind our new documentary film about opioid makers’ marketing practices.
On Wednesday, at the same time and dial-in, Quartz reporter Mary Hui in Hong Kong will join a member call about where things are headed in protestors’ standoff with China.
(You can add our continuously updated member conference call schedule to your Google calendar by using this link.)
MAKING SENSE OF FACEBOOK’S LIBRA
Over the weekend, we published a new PowerPoint presentation created by Quartz’s newsroom about Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency and its prospects. You can view it here to get up to speed on Libra, and like all of our presentations, grab and modify the slides as is useful to you.
Please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback, or suggestions for other things we should cover.
Best wishes for a productive week,
Kevin J. Delaney
Editor in chief, Quartz