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Exploring New Frontiers: A Modern Approach to Africa’s Development

By Olusoji Daomi Esq.

When I say colonization, what is it that comes to your mind? I am sure, you would be thinking of UK and you would be spot on, the British were among the biggest colonizers that world has seen. But right now I am talking about the concept, colonization. What does it really mean? One can argue that it is the draining of resources by a foreign power, a far away nation taking away your wealth, making themselves richer, leaving your land barren and your people impoverished.

Now this kind of colonization has not really gone away, it is still rampant, especially
in the continent of Africa. Only the colonizers have changed. Now it is China. And it is not sending its armies to Africa, China is using another tactic. It is called resource-back loans, loans in return for African resources. And whichever way you look at it, Africa stands to lose. Let me explain how. China has been pouring money into Africa for decades in the name of bringing development. But this is not charity, it is debt. China has been given, China in fact has given money to at least 11 African nations And we are talking about billions of dollars here in the form of investments and loans. What does China get in return? African resources. Because a country needs an emergency loan, they go to a lender, someone who is willing to give them money and to give it fast.
Also someone who does not complain or lecture about corruption or worry about the sustainability of the debt. This lender just wants to make money by exploiting the desperate nation. It is the classic definition of a loan shark, a.k.a China.

In Africa and elsewhere too, China is the biggest loan shark. It offers loans to African countries and the loans come with brutal riders. Money is disbursed in exchange for natural resources. Whatever natural well the country possesses, oil, gas, copper, cobalt, you name it, everything is up for grabs. And this is not a fair exchange, far from it. First and foremost because you can not price the asset properly. If you have minerals, oil, metals and gas on the underground, it is not actually been marketed. So how you actually come up with a price of that for a long time contract is a challenge. Undervaluing natural assets is standard. China sizes up the commodity, declares a low estimate of it and then demands that as compensation. Think of it as a pawn shark, which is ripping you off. But the borrowing nation has no choice really. The lender has agreed to give them money and that too urgently. They also promise to invest in your country, build infrastructure to extract your resources and they promise to give a tiny share of this wealth to you. How does a desperate government argue? And it is that the negotiation is very asymmetric. Nigeria must as a matter of urgency stop taking loans from China. It is not healthy for the future of Nigeria in the long run. We must now take stock of our indebtedness to China and devise an accelerated means of paying up our loans. Let Nigerian engineers take charge of our road and railway construction. After all, Nigerian Universities produce thousands of engineering graduates every year. How come our graduates cannot build roads? How come our graduates cannot build railways? Or is there something wrong with our university educational curriculum? It is time to think once again.

If outright bullying does not work, there is always corruption. In a reports, China was reportedly mentioned everywhere, it is accused of buying off officials in multiple countries, which is cheaper than paying the correct price for natural resources, just offer a bribe. And on the rare occasion that China has called out, you will hear about settlements, confidential new deals, but these additional Chinese payments never seem to reach the common people. And China seems to have perfected the art of exploiting Africa, but it’s not the only one doing it.

Western companies are in on this. Take the Swiss traders, Glencore and Trafigura. They have also been called out over the same resource-back loans, they gave loans to countries like Chad, the Republic of Congo, and Angola. Chad in particular was crushed by Glencore’s loan. The loan was in return for oil, Chad made money by selling oil, but most of this money went straight to the Swiss company, while Chad kept becoming poorer until it became the first nation to ask for a debt overhaul from the G20 So the West is definitely complicit, they just mask their neocolonization better. So the question is which is worse, China or the Western firms, I would say China, because in the case of Western companies, at least there are courts, international courts, some semblance of legal recourse for the victims. But if it is a Chinese loan, I wish you good luck, because China does not seem to believe in international courts, it does not even listen to them, so African nations must be on their guard. They have been colonized before, most of them, they have won their independence, and now it seems they will have to fight for it again.

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