This is what Africans really think of the Chinese
- Written by ibro

Increasing Chinese investment in everything from small food enterprises to massive railway projects across Africa has drawn criticism and warnings of a future dependency on Asia’s superpower.

But what do Africans themselves think about Chinese investors? Turns out, they love them.
According to a recent report by Afrobarometer, almost two-thirds (63%) of Africans say China’s influence is somewhat positive or very positive, while only 15% see it as somewhat or very negative.
“There is a negative narrative of China in Africa,” says Anyway Chingwete, co-author of the study and project manager at Afrobarometer and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa.

United States versus China in the race for Africa

Some African countries now prefer the Chinese development model to that of the US and former European colonial powers, the study revealed.
When asked which country would be the best model for the future development of their country, 24% of Africans picked China.
However, across all countries surveyed, the US still came out on top, with nearly a third (30%) of all respondents preferring it.
About one in 10 respondents prefer their former colonial power (13%) or South Africa (11%).
At a closer look, this varies greatly from country to country. Out of the 36 countries surveyed, people from 10 countries were particularly keen on the Chinese development model, with Cameroon, Sudan and Mozambique being the top three.
On the flipside, Liberia, Cape Verde, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Morocco all put the American model above the Chinese.
Some former French colonies said they preferred the French model.
“In Tunisia, Benin, Mauritius and Burkina Faso, for example, there is still some level of influence from France which they find positive, and so they choose France’s development model,” Chingwete says.
South Africa scored particularly high in neighboring countries such as Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Poor quality products?

It’s not all rosy, however. Negative opinions of China are present among Africans too, with some saying that Chinese products weren’t always of the highest quality.
They are also afraid of losing jobs to the Chinese, and some say they can’t compete with the Chinese work ethic, Lekorwe says.
“The Chinese are available 24 hours to do work, whereas a local will say: ‘Look, I have a family here.’”
“That’s some of the things that people have been complaining about, but they certainly do have a positive image overall.”

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