Rama Yade, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council think tank dedicated her regular “Africa’s Time Has Come” video post on Twitter to the subject of Chinese engagement in Africa and what she feels the U.S. needs to do to effectively compete on the continent.
The following is a lightly edited transcript of her remarks:
Today I’d like to talk about China and Africa, two weeks before the Forum on Africa-China Cooperation of Dakar [sic], an event that only happens once every three years and I’m doing so from Washington, a city obsessed with China. Every day, though, I try to explain, China or not, Africa is interesting. And I don’t believe it is a good strategy to blame Africans for trading with China.
First, they are not children.
Two, they think it’s in their interest.
If China has become the largest trading partner, it’s not even because of Xi Jinping but maybe because between China and Africa, it’s a very old story. During the Ming Dynasty, Zheng He launched the largest maritime expedition in Chinese history. It brought him to the coast of Somalia, Kenya, and Zanzibar. The oldest map of Africa is in Chinese, kept in secret in archives in Beijing.
Since 2008, the Silk Road has [helped Africa] to transition from the Washington Consensus to the Beijing Consensus, and it’s spectacular. Beijing has returned to Africa to secure its supply of natural resources… and it found more: consumers, clients.
It also has its IMF, its World Bank. In short, an alternative multilateralism for Africans. And above all, low-interest rates. A sign of trust in African long-term investments which some capitals have never done.
America will never oust China from Africa by blaming Africans, but by improving its own policy to Africa.
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