Addressing China’s Rising Influence in Africa



Michael Tiboris | The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

China is now the largest trading partner for the African continent, and China’s Export-Import Bank aims to invest more than $1 trillion in the continent by 2025. In addition, China has now surpassed the United States government in total agriculture R&D funding. China has increased its presence in African development—a trend that will persist because its model is extremely attractive to both China and many African nations.

China’s growing contributions to African development should not automatically be feared, but their increased presence should create a recalibration in US approaches to development. Current US National Security Advisor and former Ambassador John Bolton in his announcement of the administration’s Prosper Africa initiative cast China’s presence in Africa as a strategic challenge for the United States.

The market opportunities on the African continent are enormous. Consumer expenditure is expected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025 and $2.5 trillion by 2030. The World Bank estimates that the African food market alone could be worth $1 trillion by 2030, more than tripling the current $300 million market.

China’s ability to directly finance and construct infrastructure projects with fewer conditions is unique and has raised worries in some quarters about the expropriation of natural resources, environmental hazards, labor displacement, unstable debt burdens, and land grabs.


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