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Building Africa
China’s Troubles Trip Up Africa

The faltering Chinese economy is raising serious concerns in Africa, where many countries looking for development capital had thrown in their lot with Beijing. From Kenya to South Africa, Chinese companies have inked contracts to build railroads, develop mines, and drill for oil.

Yet now some of China’s biggest trading partners in Africa fear that their bet on Beijing may prove to be a losing one, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

“Without the Chinese, there’s no money,” said one Angola-based financier, who said he feared retribution from [Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos], whose family controls much of the economy. “The country hasn’t prepared itself by developing in other areas.”

While forging closer economic ties with China, Angola and others also sought to consolidate their political power and aspire to Beijing’s state-led growth model. But those that bet on China’s demand for their oil and iron ore are realizing Beijing might not always be buying—and might not be able to teach them how to hang on to power indefinitely, either.

China’s slowdown is exposing significant weaknesses in the much-discussed Africa boom: Africa’s progress appears to have had a lot to do with China’s previously insatiable demand for commodities and massive Chinese infrastructure investments. Those happy days appear to be coming to an end, however, and the consequences could resonate beyond Africa’s borders.

Many of the countries most reliant on Chinese involvement are hotbeds of terrorist activity, for example. If China retreats in places like Sudan and Nigeria (which is in the midst of an expensive effort to fight Boko Haram and root out corruption), weaker economic conditions will only exacerbate preexisting problems—and as unfortunate as that will be for Africa, it’s not great for the rest of the world, either.

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