Africa: Rwanda President defends China, scorns western relations with Africa

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Mr. Paul Kagame has backed China’s engagement in Africa, claiming the Asian country offers what African nations need; investments and money. This appraisal of China comes as annual trade between China and Africa soars over $100bn. The Rwandan president, who is held in high regard by western nations for his governance in Rwanda, was critical of western relations with Africa as he praised China in the same breath.

“ I would prefer the Western world to invest in Africa rather than handing out development aid. There is a need for help – but it should be implemented in such a way as to enable trade and build up companies. Western firms have to a large extent polluted Africa and they are still doing it. Think of the dumping of nuclear waste in the Ivory Coast or the fact that Somalia is being used as a rubbish bin by European firms,” Kagame was quoted by a German business newspaper, Handelsblatt.

“Huge Chinese investment in African companies and infrastructure is helping Africa develop. The Chinese bring what Africa needs: investment and money for governments and companies,” Mr Kagame said. He added that European and American involvement has not brought Africa forward, blaming high trade tariffs for Africa’s inability to access global markets with their produce.

“It would help Africa much more if industrialized countries allowed us the same trade rights as they give to each other. I would prefer the Western world to invest in Africa rather than handing out development aid, ” Kagame’s criticized the west’s method of aid rather than investment and infrastructure, although his country (Rwanda) received substantial international aid after the 1994 genocide.

Chinese critics

Despite Kagame’s praise of China’s role in Africa’s development, some observers have criticized China for not promoting good governance whilst dealing in Africa. China operates a policy of non-interference in domestic affairs, and offers no-strings-attached aid, in contrast to western donors who impose conditions on aid and trade to human rights issues. This situation has allowed Chinese companies to do business in areas of Africa, such as Sudan, and critics say China’s approach has emboldened unsavory governments, allowing them to ignore western calls for reform.

But analysts say Africa’s need for new and better roads, school buildings, computer networks, telecoms systems and power generation has opened a lucrative window of opportunity for Chinese firms. In African countries less blessed by natural resources, Chinese companies have created trading and investment opportunities, and with oil to be refined in Angola, copper to be mined in Zambia, and iron ore to be extracted in Gabon, China insists it seeks a harmonious world, and a peaceful co-existence, and it wants to attract African countries along the path towards development. A development Africa cannot refuse.

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