By Kaleyesus Bekele
Scholars who have done researchers on Chinese Africa economic relations disclosed that African countries have to enhance their negotiation capability to utilize Chinese development aid.
This was disclosed at a panel discussion jointly organized by Forum for Social Studies (FSS) and the Chr. Michelsen Institute of Norway under theme “The Role of Chinese Development Aid” on Tuesday January 24, 2023 at the Inter Luxury Hotel.
Pro Alemayehu Geda, macro economy and finance senior researcher at the Addis Ababa University, one of the scholars who presented a paper said that in order to utilize Chinese development aid African countries need to develop their negotiation capacity. “They should be assertive, selective and they have to enhance their project implementation capacity,” Alemayehu said.
Alemayehu said Ethiopia had a golden opportunity in soliciting Chinese development aid in the past years during the EPRDF led government. “We didn’t utilize that properly. And now Ethiopia should build its negotiating power, assign the right professionals at the right place and enhance project implementation capacity,” he added.
Ethiopia debt portfolio stands at a staggering 29 billion dollars of which 14 billion is owed to the
government of China. Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) the Chinese government is financing 13,000 projects most of them in low income countries at a cost of more than 200 billion dollars.
Elling Tjønneland, senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute of Norway said that the China has provided loans, grants and aid to Africa which is useful to African countries. However, Elling has warned that African countries should use the funds painstakingly not to fall in to debt trap.
Yu Zheng, Professor of International Politics at the School of Intentional Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, in Shanghai argued that the large amount of finance that China has provided to Africa has stimulated trade and investment in African countries. “It has laid a strong foundation between China and Africa,” Yu said.
Liu Tiewa, Associate Professor, School of International Relations and Diplomacy, Beijing Foreign Studies University, highlighted a list aid projects financed by Chinese NGOs in Africa.
China annually allocates 5-6 billion dollars for aid, 40 percent of it flows to Africa. Elling argues that this was minimal compared to Chinese giant economy. To reach 0.7 percent of GDP, the UN development goals target, China has to increase its aid by 40 fold. On the contrast Western countries in total funnel 180 billion dollars to donations.
The scholars drawn from different countries have recognized the role of Chinese development
assistance in developing African countries infrastructure and manufacturing sector. However, they pointed out that Chinese development assistance lacks transparency. They cited some African countries where lack of transparency led to high level of corruption and mismanagement of development projects.
Researchers from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, China and Norway examined and discussed the role of Chinese development assistance and its relations with Western development assistance.
FSS is a legally registered independent think that has been conducting policy research and fostering public dialogue for the past twenty-five years. Its research and public dialogue activities have covered both national and international issues and have resulted in numerous publications. In the process, it has developed mutually beneficial partnerships with a number of international organizations.