China-Africa construction cooperation effective, fruitful
Published: Aug 20, 2023 06:53 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Over the past few years, there has been a strong collaboration between China and African countries when it comes to the construction industry, resulting in significant achievements. The upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa will provide an excellent opportunity for African countries to express their views and suggest better ways of enhancing the China-Africa cooperation.  

China's desire to build a strong bond with African nations is not a new development. It has demonstrated commitment, built political trust, and expanded pragmatic cooperation with Africa. According to the European International Contractors, China accounted for 62 percent of the African construction market in 2018, which proves China's serious commitment to assisting African countries in their growth and development.

Eddie Cottle, former policy and campaign coordinator of global union federation Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), wrote in 2014 that China-African relations run as far deep as China being the biggest supporter of Africa's anti-colonial struggle and the first to assist reconstruction efforts for the newly formed African states. "The most famous example is the 1,800 kilometre Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) that was built in the 1970s by some 50,000 Chinese engineers and workers," he wrote, adding that China had provided a $400 million interest free loan to build the railway, even at a time when it itself was in a tough time.

Reports also show that since 1999, Chinese contractors' have been winning a significant share (10-20 percent) of African infrastructure contracts awarded by the International Development Association.

The BRICS summit will be held in South Africa from August 22 to 24, with the theme "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism." The summit aims to facilitate meaningful conversations that will foster further collaboration among the BRICS countries. It also provides an opportunity for invited African countries to outline the type of cooperation they would like to see, which will contribute to the region's economic growth. Additionally, it serves as a platform for sharing any concerns they may have. Furthermore, this summit will assist African countries in addressing their social issues and finding sustainable solutions.

BRICS plays a fundamental role in the world's GDP, accounting for 25 percent, and represents 43 percent of the world's population and 16 percent of world trade. BRICS has a crucial role to play in reducing inequality in the health sector in African countries. Some BRICS countries, such as Brazil, China, and India, are excelling in manufacturing low-cost medication and vaccines. African countries can learn valuable lessons from these BRICS countries to improve their own healthcare systems. These important topics should be discussed in upcoming summits to foster better collaboration between BRRICS and African countries and find more effective ways of addressing these issues.

Infrastructure plays a crucial role in African countries because without proper roads, it is difficult to bring in new development that will improve the country and its community. The transportation of goods and products is important as it has an impact on the country's economic growth. China has shown impressive involvement in helping and investing in African countries over the years, which dwarfs the US. The continuous investment from China will open up many opportunities in African countries, such as increased employment through various projects that will help elevate their economic growth. Different sectors, such as transportation and agriculture, will have the opportunity to grow, and small businesses will have a chance to operate in a better state.

The China-Africa cooperation has shown significant growth within African countries. There is much work to be done in the coming years to promote economic growth in Africa. The construction sector is particularly important as it opens many doors and has the potential to alleviate poverty and inequality across the continent. It will enable people to have proper homes and employment opportunities with different contractors, thus restoring their dignity. Additionally, it will address the transportation challenges faced by African countries due to poor road conditions. The China-Africa cooperation has proven highly effective in the construction sector, even extending to financially struggling African countries that may have difficulty repaying loans to China.

The author is a PhD student at Durban University of Technology. Zamaswazi.pc@gmail.com