As US/China confrontation intensifies, a railway advocacy group, African Railway Roundtable has called on African leaders to be prepared for likely impact of the feud on Africa’s ties with both superpowers.
In the statement signed by its Director, Olawale Rasheed, the group recalled recent sanctions on some Chinese companies as a trend to watch because of China’s deep involvement in many infrastructural projects across Africa.
While noting the statement credited to President Cyrill Ramaphosa that both superpowers should leave Africa out of their feud, the Roundtable affirmed that unless Beijing and Washington calmed down, African may soon be dragged into the confrontation.
” We want to alert African leaders to this emerging threat arising from the ongoing diplomatic war between China and the USA. Chinese firms are extensively operating in many African countries. Many mega infrastructural projects like railways, dams industrial parks and others are under execution by China with Chinese funding. Africa must be prepared for a backlash in case the situation escallates.
” Africa may be forced to take a stand sooner than later. While the continent may await the outcome of the US election in November, the continent must brace up for decisive decision. Africa needs hard infrastructure to bridge infrastructural deficit and gap. China is doing that under controversial conditions. There must credible alternative if Africa is to turn her back against the Chinese offer”, the group affirmed.
The group also urged the United States to handle Africa as a special case, pointing out that ” Chinese influence in Africa is a consequence of lack of proactive attention to the yearning of the region for hard infrastructure to leap out of backwardness.
“Africa needs road, railways, bridges, industrial parks,hospitals and many hard core projects. China presented an opportunity which no matter how demanding satsifies that needs for a new lease of life. That is why we welcome with happiness annoucement by U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) that it is launching the Africa Investment Advisor Program, which establishes a regional team based in Africa.
“The team will equip DFC to more proactively advance investments and expand its portfolio in this priority region, particularly as Africa continues to respond to both the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic” according to a statement from the DFC.This is a welcome development to open Africa to other financing options in the pursuance of her infrastructure dream and aspiration.
“It is therefore important for Washington not to sanction Chinese firms doing business in Africa. The diplomatic rift should recognise Africa as a special zone as many African countries have very close ties with both the United States and China. Washington cannot afford to burn old strategic diplomatic bridges.”, the statement concluded