We witness an increasing foreign interest in Africa and a new race to capture its resources and markets. While the original 19th-century “Scramble for Africa” was between major European powers, today the European Union and China compete for influence on the continent. The European Union pushes for economic partnership agreements which aim to facilitate the free trade agenda. But it seems that European countries and corporations are steadily losing momentum as investors. China, however, has become one of Africa’s most important trade partners over the past two decades.
And as African countries are looking to fill their infrastructure gap, Chinese firms have built stadiums, highways, railways, airports, schools and hospitals. Ethiopia’s new rail system and the metro in Addis Ababa, for example, were built mainly with money from China. Also crisis-related aid from Chinese private individuals and the businesses community stand out from the rest. The volume of China’s in-kind and financial support for the continental fight against COVID-19 falls short compared to the Europeans. But aid often comes in the form of loans, with China contributing to the debt piles of African countries.