China's Influence in Africa: Lessons for Japan and Benefits for Africa

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AbstractChina’s increased participation in Africa’s development over the past decade has been overwhelming, its influence in Africa both politically and economically has put China ahead of its neighbor Japan regarding aid to Africa. Japan spent a total of $460 million in 2011 while China spent $3.17 billion this is according to Japan external organization and China’s government data. While Japanese government strategy for development in Africa has been to eradicate poverty, ensuring zero hunger, provision of health infrastructure, improved education, gender equality and providing clean water, sanitation, clean energy, infrastructure and employment opportunities its counterpart’s strategy has been different and that is to create jobs for Chinese corporations and to advance its low global ambitions.

It is no surprise that Africa is been called the new and the last frontier for entrepreneurs all over the world not only do we have the youngest population, Africa is blessed with both human and natural resources yet to be tapped. This paper looks at Japan, its involvement in Africa’s development, what the Japanese government can learn from China, improve on it and how Africa can benefit from both countries hustle for the control of Africa.

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Keywords: China, Japan, Africa, development, resourcesIntroductionOver the past 2 decades China has continued to establish itself as a major player across the continent of Africa. Historical evidence has shown that there have been economic and political relationships between China and Africa as far back as 500 years ago (Mohan and Kale, 2007). Japan on the other end has for many years been a stable partner for a number of African countries, recently China`s foreign minister Wang Yi and Japan`s prime minister Shinzo Abe both visited Africa while Abe visited Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Ethiopia Wang visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Ghana and Senegal both trips can be seen as a competition over Africa although both country denies this.

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A significant number of Japanese believe Africa is the hope for Japan, Japan meanwhile has redefined its presence across Africa by re-intensifying its involvement, its primary objective is to re-position itself both in an Afro-Asian context and in global politico-economic arena (Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) 2013).While Japan`s primary development goals include eradicating poverty, ensuring zero hunger, promoting health, education, gender equality and providing water, sanitation, clean energy, infrastructure and employment opportunities, China`s foreign aid has one objective and that’s to create jobs for Chinese corporations and to advance its global ambitions an example of this is the recent allegation of spying levelled against the Chinese government.Analyses of China`s influence in Africa and its strategyChina`s engagement in Africa is primarily resource extraction, infrastructure development and manufacturing, China is seen to support oppressive and destitute African dictatorship government. China is soaking up Africa`s resources and Chinese workers are taking away jobs that are meant for Africans as many Chinese companies import workers from China to work in Africa (Kantei 2014) this practice increases the unemployment rate in Africa this has a negative effect in the growth in Africa but it should also be noted that although China has contributed to the development in Africa this development is short term. Countries like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa just to name a few can attest to the negative impact of cheap and low-quality products that keep finding its way to its shores although these products like cheap handsets, low quality electrical products helped the poor get access to them it should be noted that the negative effect on the economy is more than the positives. In Nigeria for example cheap Chinese shoes has not helped the growth of the shoe making industry which is still in its infancy while in the east African region Kenya`s status as its major exporter is being undermined by goods coming from directly from China.China is the second largest oil consumer in the world and in an attempt to control its oil and gas consumption needs China has shifted its focus on African Nations with engineering and construction for developing oil and gas, mineral and other natural resources in countries like Algeria, Angola, Gabon, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe.Analyses of Japans strategy, ODA, TICAD V (looking at bilateral aid and business opportunities as well as development projects)Japans ODA started in October 6th 1954 in the years that followed when Japans economy recorded high growth, the country established an agency called (JICA) saddled with the responsibility of supervising Japan`s assistance and cooperation. Africa is the world`s next great market with countries like Nigeria and south Africa as the two major economies in the region, this offers Japan a long-term opportunity economically. The Idea of TICAD is to connect Japanese Investors to the vast African markets and with JETRO whose activities focused mainly on promoting exports to other countries with seventy-three offices in fifty-five countries it is encouraging trade partners, import promotion, liaison between small businesses in Japan and their overseas counterparts and data dissemination.ODA has been Japan`s most distinctive tool of engagement with the continent of Africa with development projects all over Africa, from Angola, Benin, Botswana, South-Africa to Zimbabwe these projects ranges from Agriculture, Human resource development in the water supply sector of South Sudan, Education, Agricultural products supply in Senegal, ICT development in Rwanda the list goes on. Japan currently has thirty-five companies doing business in Morocco, thirty-one in Nigeria, one hundred and thirty-one in South-Africa, forty-seven in Egypt, forty-three in Kenya with a total of four hundred and forty-eight companies cutting across the fifty-four countries in the continent (africabusinesspartners).How can the Japanese government learn from the Chinese government’s strategy and how it can go further and achieve its goal?Japanese Product use to be house-hold names in Africa with the likes of Toshiba, Panasonic, Sharp just to name a few but the same cannot be said of recent with the Chinese products taking over, its known world- wide of Japanese quality and so it was strange to see that the above Japanese products aren’t in African homes anymore.What do we know of Chinese products? They are cheap They aren’t of good qualityWhat strategy do Chinese companies use?According to the United nations statistics about 33.6% of Africa`s population is living on US$1.90 per day so it means about half the population in Africa cannot afford to buy an IPhone, a Samsung Phone, a Laptop or afford to eat three square meal a day. So, what the Chinese companies have smartly done is target this 33.6%in Africa or more by providing them with cheap phones, laptops and basic items they need for their daily life activates from shoes to clothes they provide for them. What can Japanese Companies do?1) Match these Chinese products in Price but with better quality ” this is possible if factories can be setupin Africa so products can be produced in Africa, by Africans and for Africans with materials from Africa.2) The current ABE initiative is a very good idea but what’s the second step after the graduals go back toAfrica?3) Setting up factories for manufacturing in Africa (FBC ” Uniqlo) ” is already starting it with its firstAfrican manufacturing plant in Ethiopia to meet the African market.4) Investment in Agriculture ” Africa has 65% of all the arable land left in the world to feed 9 billion people by 2020 (Akinwumni Adesina ” President Africa development Bank) ” I think Japanese companies should think of investing in agriculture this holds a lot of potential both Africa and Japan.How Africa can benefit from both countries struggle for dominance in the continent. Africa can benefit economically, technologically and financially ” Trade and InvestmentEstablishment of Shoe factories in Ethiopia Africa can achieve political stability and peace keepingMilitary personnel from Japan will be part of United Nations peace keeping operations in South Sudan Maritime security and Combating of terrorismJapan`s Self-Defence forces deployed to the coast of Djibouti for anti-piracy mission Benefits in the health sector- China has already launched China-Africa health development initiatives with the aim to addressthe gap in public health and health research.- Ґ50 billion financial support and 120,000 people capacity building Human capacity developmentABE initiative, MEXT, Ashinaga scholarship ” All these scholarships are geared towards developing young Africans to man different sectors across the continent. Infrastructure development. Private sector development Natural resources Science and technology Education and Gender Water and Sanitation TourismThese are just a few of the things Africa stands to gain from both countries struggle for dominance in the region. ConclusionAfrica as a continent has a lot to gain but the government in each country must first clean their house in other to benefit from both countries interest in the continent. The government of African countries have to reduce corruption to its minimal, they have to be accountability and good governance at all levels and currently only Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda seem to have these going for them, they must be an enabling environment for these investments to strive and it’s up to the government to provide that. Africa have realized improvements in infrastructure and economic development but at the same time this has come with its negatives, a lot of people have showed concerns regarding China`s investment in Africa as it seems to be for their own economic gains as they are looking for the opportunity to extract raw materials take them back to China and then sell finished products to the African market, many Chinese investments also involve the use of large Chinese labor which creates problems for the already extensive local unemployed youths in Africa. It is yet to be seen if Japan`s investment is also similar to that of China but from studies it seems to be different as Japan chooses not to use extensive Japanese labor in their investments.Although both Japan and China have investments in Africa Its easy to notice the difference, whereas Japan prides itself in quality the same cannot be said of China where unethical business practices aren’t dealt with in fact the Chinese communist party rewards manufacturers that help bring foreign currency into the country through commerce. It is left for Africa to set out policies to checkmate the inflow of goods so as to encourage local production and sign proper contract deals that encourages employment and training of locals so as to improve our expertise and then reduce unemployment. Japan has continued to show interest in Africa through aids and developmental plans and as a scholar under the ABE initiative program I will say Japan is taking the right steps in ensuring Africa`s development through its various programs and it’s just a matter of time before it starts reaping the benefits.

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China's Influence in Africa: Lessons for Japan and Benefits for Africa. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from

China's Influence in Africa: Lessons for Japan and Benefits for Africa
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