Africa and the Silk road

Africa and the Silk road
Africa and the Silk road

By: Saif Amr - Researcher at Model African Union Egypt

Over the past decades , China emerged as major economic , political and military force. And that’s with the strategic void that led to Russia’s regression as a major power in the early 90’s. And as history has entrusted us , major power doesn’t extradite from hostiles. Thus , China has been encountering the dominant power which is the United States of America since the 1990’s. Turning  back to the discussion “ is there a cold war going on between China and the united states?” . whether we agree or disagree on that name, there’s a clear strife between the upward aspiring of China and the united states’ apprehension of the status that lead to the disruption of the global order between unipolar, bipolar and multipolar ( specially with Russia ‘s return). As it’s know,  the goals and plans of the minor and regional power get lost and distracted by this changes and disputes.
Following the begging of the American – Russian  cold war , a lot of dispute and conflict zones emerged between the two giants , like Taiwan crises which spans over many decades but it recently reappeared on the stage of the international politics. Also the commercial war that the former president Trump highlighted it’s first seed in the mid of the last century that obviously validates the transformation of the base of power in the international politics from military power to the economic and commercial power. One of the conflict , dispute zones of the American- Chinese commercial war , the one belt and road initiative that was launched by the Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, that aims to revive the Chinese heritage Silk road that connects the continents Asia, Africa and Europe. Where it extends from China in the East  to Italy in the West. Silk road aims to deepen it’s economic and commercial ties regionally and internationally between the countries that it will pass through either by land or sea.

The initiative covers two parts  , the first is called “the Belt” which is primarily land-based that connects China with the rest of Asia to Europe and Africa . The other part is “the Road” which is also a land-based that connects China with South -East Asian states to Africa , and then determine six economic corridors that connects between Belt and Road.
Looking specifically to Africa , we will find that Silk road is considered as one of the most global projects that will benefit Africa economically. Where the presence of China as an investor in the African region means the utilization of this project. Where the Chinese side is set to spend about $1 trillion . This $trillion is not just for the roadways , but also for the investments that will help the course of the project in the countries that it will pass through. This appeared in the investments done in the region of the Egyptian Suez canal.

In addition, the project is due to be finished by the year 2049. Referring to that long term , China shows her preparations to cooperate with the countries that the road passes through , and this appeared in the cooperation protocols that China signed  with many countries regarding the Silk road and other investments  inside the Country . Besides , China initiate to coordinate long-term strategies for countries like the coordination between  the Road and Belt initiative and Egypt vision strategy 2030. Which means that there is a possibility of coordinating the Road and Belt initiative with the African Union strategy 2063. Talking about the African free trade area , the Silk road will help in the transformation process of the continent's states  from just exporters of raw materials and natural resources to commodity producers .

On the political side , the Chinese Silk road represents an important aspect from the transmission of the domination on African continent from Europe specially France , to China and that’s by controlling the African trade. This is considered as a larger part of China’s plan for incursion into the African continent that first started by establishing Chinese military bases like that in Djibouti, and also incursion by building state’s electronic infrastructure with the 5G technology monopolized by China . This infrastructure is being built through the executive arm of the Chinese government ( Huawei) company. This technique will grant the Chinese government the access to all the data concerning the countries that use that infrastructure.

Now comes an important question, how can we maximize the utilization of the silk road as Africa?

The first and most crucial theme that must be done is combating corruption. Where the political corruption can waste efforts, resources and public finance without taking advantage of any Chinese investment in the African region, in addition to the disruption of the infrastructure development projects that are essential for using the Silk road. Moreover, the government should depend on economic and political government projects to reduce the effect of corruption. The second theme is not neglecting the environmental aspect in order to go with the goals of the sustainable development that mainly focuses on the environmental axes , where merging the development goals especially it’s environmental aspect with the great economic chances that the initiative promises , may lead to better results than what was expected on the short and long term. Thirdly , Africa has to strengthen the ties of cohesion between the states of the continent itself politically , economically and culturally to work as a single entity that has a single voice. Signs of the coherence appeared in the African economic project and decades before that in the idea of the African union.