Rising China and Africa's development: oil
Rising China and Africa's development: oil

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Rising China and Africa's development: oil

1 Taking stock of the evidence

You may recall that in the first session the following two questions were asked:

  • Does China’s international engagement spell increased cooperation between developing countries for mutual benefit?

or

  • Are Chinese practices exploitative, signalling a new phase of neo-colonialism?

These questions are essentially two sides of the same coin and you were introduced to a range of evidence that could help you answer these questions.

Activity 1 Reflecting on China’s impact in Africa

Spend 30 minutes thinking back over the previous four sessions of study and fill in the following table as a way of structuring your analysis. As you do so, consider whether both columns of the table have an approximately equivalent number of factors or whether one side is significantly more heavily populated that the other. And do you feel all factors are of equal importance or are some more critical than others? An opening example has been included for you.

Factors where China has encouraged African development Factors where China has impeded African development
Builds refineries Imports labour
Words: 0
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Here is a suggested response to the activity.

Factors where China has encouraged African development Factors where China has impeded African development
Builds refineries Imports labour
Brought new investment in infrastructure through oil-backed loans Largely enriched political elites in the countries where it invests
Created jobs in construction Chinese firms still import the more skilled labour they need
Purchases many of the commodities that African countries produce and so boosted their income Sometimes misunderstood the politics of a particular country
Takes African governments seriously and does not seek to interfere in their politics On occasion contributed to domestic conflicts, as in Sudan
Created local linkages in some countries, e.g. Sudan
Taking a more active role in development and diplomacy following the Darfur crisis
Skills and technology transfer

Now watch this video with Giles Mohan.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1: China’s Contribution to African Development
Skip transcript: Video 1: China’s Contribution to African Development

Transcript: Video 1: China’s Contribution to African Development

GILES MOHAN
Whether China brings development through its investments in Africa is a mixed answer, really. In some cases, it's been quite positive. In other cases, less so. And I think that counters some of the media hype that the Chinese are only there to do things in their own interest. So rather than saying it's either/or, it's a bit of both, really. And the answer to why that happens is really down to the nature of those local institutions that you see in Africa. So where you have robust laws that govern, say, the local content that is written into those contracts and that is enforced, then you can see some benefits coming from that. But where there's lax regulation, then companies, whether they're Chinese or whoever, will not really be doing a great deal to generate employment, create revenue, and all those other things which you get. I think the other key way that the Chinese have contributed to more forms of inclusive development is through what are called oil-for-infrastructure deals; So this is to say, well, we'll take some of your oil, but it can be other natural resources. And we effectively give you a low interest loan on the back of that. You secure your loan against the sale of those resources. And then the money that comes in from that is used to build infrastructure, which can be roads, railways, electricity generation, and things like that. And it's those things, actually, I think, which are going to have the wider ripple effects in terms of African development, not simply whether there's a 5%, 20%, 30% stake in a particular oilfield, which is a very capital-intensive industry. So the benefits are always going to be quite limited from direct employment, say, in the oil fields. But if you think in a much broader set of issues around those infrastructure and the linkages to local firms, and you can see small ways, I think, in which China is benefiting Africa.
End transcript: Video 1: China’s Contribution to African Development
Video 1: China’s Contribution to African Development
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

To what extent do you agree with this assessment of China’s role in Africa? If you differ, why do you think what you do?

CA_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371