For the past years, China has openly expanded its relations with Africa. The scale and scope of contemporary Chinese engagement and interest in Africa is unprecedented and hardly new. For the past two decades, China has demonstrated its interest in areas of investment, finance, development, trade, training and technology transfer, cultural exchange and tourism. Clearly, a wide area of the continent has poor infrastructure, in need of financial assistance, and most of all has a lot of useful resources. In exchange, China has all the assistance to offer, and Africa has more than enough resources to support China’s booming economy. This assets and liability combination and balance have strongly fostered the relations between China and Africa.
Its increased investment and economic interest in Africa have been under scrutiny because a large number of people have not really understood what the actual interest is. Some say that this interest is headed towards exploiting the African resources like the Western countries did decades ago. This has raised many questions about whether China is planning to colonize, partner in development, or exploit Africa.
However, the relationship between China and Africa began back in 1955. This was during the Bandung conference. As a result of its deteriorating ties with the Soviet Union, its relationship with Africa began to grow deeper towards the end of the 1950s. China then began to search for allies in the African soil to establish a counterbalance weight to Western imperialism and Soviet hegemony. In the early 1980s, that was when its relationship with Africa plummeted. That indulgence shifted focus to economic development in Africa. China’s involvement with Africa has never been a threat to any country in the continent. First, China has always had the willingness to invest where the western world is unwilling. Secondly, its government has never had any cases of imposing political conditions on African governments while signing any contract.
One major African country that has had relations with China is Nigeria. There have been bilateral relations between the two countries, and these have been based on bilateral trade and strategic corporation. In fact, Nigeria considers China as the most important trading partner. In the latest occurrence, during Nigeria’s president Mohammadu Buhari’s election address, China expressed huge interest in the country. The Nigerian president expressly said that Boko Haram was a big challenge to the country, and would be his priority in his reign.
In response to Buhari’s address, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said that China would support Nigeria and play a positive role in helping the country fight terrorism. Abuja holds the third largest economy in Africa after only Angola and South Africa. It has a very strong market potential in energy resources that China simply could not ignore.
Since Nigeria and China established strategic relations one decade ago, bilateral trade levels between them have exponentially increased. So far, most Nigerian regions have greatly benefited from Chinese infrastructure improvements including the Abuja-Kaduna railway, and Abuja Light Rail. As electrical energy in Nigeria shifts from public to private, different methods of generating power have been sought for development. That includes hydro, electric and other forms of renewable energy. So far, China has openly taken advantage of the electrical needs in this country to transform its power grid.