Black Gold: The Doom of the Night.

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So to me it is just a funny mix. One man’s resource is another man’s blessing. Why is there such a thing as a resource curse? Resources are the stuff we use to make more stuff. The more stuff we have the better right? But where has Africa’s resources taken it. Let’s see, um first they brought us the slave trade alongside some massive theft of our resources without limit. From gold, to oil to diamonds to the people themselves. But is that really what happened? We were not really robbed, we actually stripped and gave them everything. There is an innate nature of Africans handing everything they own into the hands of foreigners. We never think we’re good enough, even when some Africans are doing it or have done it; it’s never good enough. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how things should be done but funny enough never does anything about it.

Where we were then.

“Commercial quantities of offshore oil reserves were discovered in the 1970s. In 1983 the government established the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to promote exploration and production, and the company reached agreements with a number of foreign firms. In 1989 three companies, two American and one Dutch, spent US$30 million drilling wells in the Tano basin. On June 21, 1992, an offshore Tano basin well produced about 6,900 barrels of oil daily.
In the early 1990s, GNPC reviewed all earlier oil and gas discoveries to determine whether a predominantly local operation might make exploitation more commercially viable. GNPC wanted to set up a floating system for production, storage, off-loading, processing, and gas-turbine electricity generation, hoping to produce 22 billion cubic feet per day, from which 135 megawatts of power could be generated and fed into the national and regional grid. GNPC also won a contract in 1992 with Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol that provides for drilling and, ultimately, production at two of Sonangol’s offshore oilfields. GNPC will be paid with a share of the oil.” (
In 1989 the Tema Oil Refinery underwent its first phase of rehabilitation and a second phase in April 1990 to the tune of $30 million. As a result, the quantity of oil supplied to be refined grew from 28000 to 34000 barrels a day.
So there was actually a plan for the oil way back in 1992, TOR was up and running and refining oil in commercial quantities and which was used to generate electricity for Ghana. Yet a few years down the line, we found oil and actually forgot the plan we had in 1992 and TOR is now an obsolete national monument and as a result we now ship our oil in its crude form to be refined to be bought back at higher prices which is how we treat our beloved gold and cocoa. (Funny how we treat all our important resources the same way). When on the other hand Norway discovered oil in the 1970’s and have been able to manage it properly. And properly I mean by theory and in terms of national wealth every Norwegian is legitimate millionaire.

When Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities in 2010, we sought to consult the Norwegians for advice as to how best we could manage our oil in order to reap its full benefits. A two day workshop was held for our members of parliament at Koforidua with a representative of the Revenue Watch Institute so we could get the advice needed in managing our oil. Some of the recommendations given were; majority of the petroleum revenue should be channeled into the Heritage and Stabilization funds because government could earn returns on them if the funds were invested in stable securities, if public organs and citizens grew accustomed to large inefficient public expenditure, the decline in the petroleum production could cause a severe shock and degenerate into the “Dutch Disease”, checks and balances and provisions have to be incorporated to ensure transparency, effective oversight and accountability, it was wise to spread spending over time to avoid adverse macro-economic effects today because of limited absorptive capacity and to ensure inter-generational balance use of the fund. This was when Ghanaian MP’s supported the voting of a high share of the revenue now, because of the huge investment the country needs. (But what do we see now?),cntnt01,print,0&cntnt01articleid=185&cntnt01showtemplate=false&cntnt01returnid=99
So we knew and yet we said what the hell. My stomach versus the future of the country, and they chose their stomach because our MP’s decided to choose what they would eat today over what their future generations would eat. There was a Norwegian example and a Nigerian example. Where the Nigerians decided to spend a huge amount of their oil revenue now and the Norwegians who chose to rather invest it in stable securities and what do we see now?
Where we are now.

This is simple. Ghana’s debt has risen to all time high, the economy is in very bad shape and Ghanaians are in a state of economic hardship. One major problem Ghanaians had was upon the discovery of oil everyone thought things were going to become better in the shortest period of time. The only thing we failed to realize was that these things take time and the effective and efficient management of the oil revenue. We then rushed to make a deal with foreign oil companies where our country is rumored to be making less than 15% off its own oil. That’s a pretty good bargain right? And in terms of revenue management Ghana generated an estimated $650 million in 2012 and TOR is currently in shambles. Ironic how when we finally found oil of our own, state owned oil refinery decided to give up on us. While in the 1990’s GNPC could fund and facilitate rehabilitation programs for TOR, GNPC is currently neck high in debt.

Why are we where we are kraa?

It all about the issue of poor leadership, or rather no leadership, neither by us or our leaders. Let’s break that down a bit.
We have no vision. We did not even need vision. All we had to do was learn from the Norwegians who had been there and had made their resource do what resources are supposed to do; make them better off. The theory says that savings go hand-in=hand with investment. How far has that investment they needed gone? We currently just recorded a huge deficit in our national budget because our state oil company GNPC decided to reinvest its profit and not to pay dividends the government and now we’re afraid and raising concerns as to if GNPC can decide not to pay dividends to the government, and who supervises GNPC because it holds and manages a big chunk of the nation’s money. And these are supposed to be our leaders?
Greed? Are some of the people we voted into government just so eager to get the most out of their four-year all-you-can-squander bonanza that the prospects of a better life for all at the cost of some amount of sacrifice too difficult a sacrifice to make? Or do we delve into the complicated deals that were passed by the two government administrations during the pre and post oil findings that saw some people got screwed because the new government administration wanted a bigger piece of the oil cake. I encourage you to read this film review of the documentary the big men which seek to expose the shady deals and the selfish characters of our leaders and the international oil companies who seek to rip the ordinary Ghanaian off Everybody is willing to throw everyone else under the bus to increase their share of what should be national cake.
To make matters worse we have leaders who do not want to serve or sacrifice. Martin Luther king said: “no freedom till we are all equal”. I guess our leaders flipped it on its head. They will rather sell our freedom for their becoming more equal than the rest of us.
We could talk about aid but let’s not even go there. That is for another day and another blog. It’s a whole different story, talking about our increased borrowing due to increased credit worthiness even though we know very well we will not be able to pay back.

Where to go from here?

It is obviously too late to start again, so rather than just criticize the government. We could go Gaddafi on those “big men: and kick them all out, or?
In truth, I think we should stop pointing fingers at leaders. We get the leaders we deserve. We all like to talk. We need to do more than talk. There have been any times where things have gone bad yet the educated and intelligent people in the country do not lift a finger. Everybody talks and no one does anything. It’s like ‘dzi wo fie asem’ but we fail to recognize that this is our very own ‘asem’. Why not take up the idea of a shadow government, where students and lecturers and opposition parties break the status quo of ‘politricks’ as we see in the media, of pointless discussion which lead nowhere, of propaganda and cooked statistics. Let an educated community of people rise and make constructive criticism of government and go that extra step to say how the issue should be tackled. Fine it may not change the vote of parliament on any issue but in the very least it should equip us with the mental muscle to do it right when we find ourselves in positions where we are to make decisions, because believe me, we will be there.




Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey, a famous Ghanaian intellectual and teacher said “when you educate a man you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman you educate a whole nation”. A South African song also says “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock, you have dislodged a boulder; you will be crushed”. These are sayings that depict the strength and importance of the African woman’s role in her society. However, is this the reality that exists on the ground in present day Africa? This blog seeks to establish the importance of the role of the African woman in “Developing Africa”.

The African woman has played a pivotal role in getting Africa to where it is today. However, little credit is and has always been given to the importance of the African woman in the African society. Take for instance agriculture, much credit has always been given to the African man for being responsible for majority of agricultural production on the continent. Yet, research has shown that predominantly small-scale subsistence farming systems with more than 50% of the agricultural activity is mainly performed by women, producing about 60-70% of the food in the Sub-Saharan region (Gawaya, 2008). Alderman in his book Gender Differentials in Farm Productivity also states that if women are given similar access to resources and inputs as men, they stand to achieve equal or higher yields as that of men, going a long way to ensure food security in Africa. Studies undertaken by the South African History Online Organization (SAHO), also reinforce the fact that women provide a source of readily available cheap black labor in the agricultural sector, which is necessary for the survival of the South African agricultural system. *Sighs* the list is endless…….. Countless examples can be made in relation to the contribution of the African woman in the development of agriculture.

Women have also fought to achieve equal rights in many parts of Africa. But as in other regions of the globe, a woman’s status varies by country and region. Bringing women on board would ensure a better and faster progress and this would serve as a means for boosting development in Africa. Matilda Kalibata and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf are living testimonies as to the tremendous change that can be effected by women as and when they are given the opportunity.  During her tenure in office Matilda Kalibata, the Rwandan agricultural minister has managed to lift a million Rwandans out of poverty through her agricultural policies which is now being touted as the most effective in the world. These include smart programs connecting farmers to their neighbors, innovative cow-sharing schemes, expansion of technologies like farmers to food buyers and localized cooperative farming programs. She also implemented restrictive policies such as bans on plastic bags, mandatory participatory in cleanup day on the fourth Saturday of every month which has gone a long way in improving the environmental conditions necessary for agricultural production.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is also another illustrious example of African women who have effected positive transformational change. She is the first female African President and also a Nobel Prize winner. She is also credited with achieving Liberian reconciliation, a feat which has long eluded the country’s previous male leaders.

There is the saying that ‘whatever a man can do a woman can do better’. However, this is not the reality that seems to exist on the ground, as less responsibility is almost always allocated to the African woman. Hence, the need to prove themselves beyond any reasonable doubt with every opportunity they get.  Women are also known to be more transformational than men – they tend to care more about developing their followers, listen more like a mother would and often tend to stimulate others to think “outside the box”. They are also known to be more inspirational, ethical and less likely to be corrupt than their male counterparts. In our view, recruiting more women into public service may indeed decrease overall corruption, but there’s always a bad nut that exists amongst the lot. “Efie biara m3nsa w) mu”- an Akan adage basically implying that, there’s always the tendency for a wayward person or a bad nut to be found amongst the good lot.

In conclusion, little acknowledgement has been given to the role the African woman has and can play in the development of society. So much power has been allocated to the African man who seldom ceases to disappoint us. It is time we took a second look at women empowerment and how it affects the development of Africa, because it is obvious that there is a lot more she can offer if given the opportunity.


  • Alderman, H., Hoddinott, J., Haddad, L. and Udry, C. Gender Differentials in Farm Productivity: Implications for Household Efficiency and Agricultural Policy. 2003. In Quimsumbing, A. R., Household decisions, gender and development: a synthesis of recent research, ISBN 0-89629-717-9
  • Gawaya, R.Investing in women farmers to eliminate food insecurity in southern Africa: policy-related research from Mozambique. 2008. Gender and Development, Vol 16, No. 1 

Post by:

 Ann Marie Mends & Kofi Biney












Does Foreign aid make or mar Africa?


Post By: Vanessa Amoako and Jeanne-Barbara Esinam Debre

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Many of us were raised to abide by the rule, “sharing is caring”. Therefore, we would share our food with our friends whenever they did not have enough and we happened to have more than enough. Even though we may not have understood it then, “sharing was and is essential to maintain and protect the collective, and empathy is an essential value of what it is to be human” (Abugre, 2010)

With this mentality, we can understand why aid is given by the international body to support developing countries, especially on the African continent, as they strive to achieve economic growth and success. It is natural for rich countries to help the poorer ones to ameliorate the suffering that exists in these countries in the likes of famine, disease, low quality education, poor infrastructure, etc., because no one wants to see their fellow human being suffer from not being able to have access to what is in abundance in someone else’s life.

Foreign aid has successfully supported economic development in aid-dependent countries such as Indonesia, Korea and Thailand from the 1960s to the late 1980s in which as government expenditure financed by aid increased steadily, the countries’ economic growth and development also grew at a faster pace (Abugre, 2010) Likewise, in 1992, 69 percent of the population of Ethiopians was made up of undernourished people. However, global efforts and foreign aid, as well as the efforts of the Ethiopian government and its people, helped reduce this percentage to about 41 percent in 2012 (it continues to decrease as at today). Ethiopia has successfully used its aid to expand its economy to improve upon the living standards of its people (Falsani, 2012). Finally, millions of African children are alive and a hundred thousand more lives have been saved due to the international cooperation to fight HIV/ AIDS, malaria and measles through the provision of foreign aid (Abugre, 2010)

There is no doubt that foreign aid is a strong contributing factor to the economic growth and development in Africa. However, the methods in which aid is delivered to African nations must be reconsidered. There should be transparency in how aid is used by countries to satisfy the purpose for which the aid is given. Too often, foreign aid ends up in the pockets of corrupt government individuals quenching their insatiable thirst for wealth, while the citizens whom the aid was sent for continue to wallow in their misery until death swoops them off the earth. Effective systems for delivery of aid must be put in place to ensure that the aid goes directly to the people instead of passing through governments first. This way, we believe, will enable foreign aid contribute to making Africa instead of destroying it.  


We believe that foreign aid has done more harm than good to Africa. We are saying this because foreign aid to Africa especially from the USA is always given with one condition or the other that meets the political priorities of the country and not really for the sake of helping Africa develop. “Much of the aid provided is related to the geopolitical priorities of the donors, and does not always go to the countries that need it most… Sub-Saharan Africa could benefit much more from increased aid if strings were not attached to it.”(Gordon & Gordon, 2012). This is a major problem we have with most aid that comes to Africa; they are almost always with so many conditions that they are not really useful in the long run. With the amount of money that has been poured into Africa over the decades in the form of aid, Africa should have made significant progress in terms of development sadly this is not so.

It is about time that Africa started weaning herself from all the aid she receives from the West. This is because, even after all the aid received these western countries do not want to give African countries the chance to trade with them on equal terms. African countries are not given the chance to export finished goods to these countries; it is as though they believe we can never develop to the point where our manufacturing industry would grow. This brings to the type of relationship China wants to have with Africa, which is to trade with us as coequals and this has made the West very uncomfortable.  Dambisa Moyo made mention in her book Dead Aid that foreign aid helps perpetuate the cycle of poverty and hinders economic growth in Africa and this is because, the aid that is given is usually not effective and sometimes does not even get to those who actually need it. Foreign aid perpetuates the practice of corruption in Africa; the governments that receive the aid mostly do not send everything that is due to that particular project or the people that need it. Thus, the issue of foreign aid not helping Africa is as a result of too many conditions from the donors and the assumption that aid is all that Africa needs on one side and the mismanagement of those funds by the African governments because that money keeps coming.

If aid were stopped at once, there would be a huge crisis in Africa. Thus, aid must gradually be stopped so African leaders can start looking at other avenues for funds; like the capital markets with which the Chinese are very willing to help us. Paul Collier, in his argument for foreign aid, said, “Over-optimistic… She implies that, were aid cut, African governments would respond by turning to other sources of finance that would make them more accountable…  this exaggerates the opportunity for alternative finance and underestimates the difficulties African societies face.” (Paul Collier, Economist). Paul Collier believes that Dambisa Moyo is being biased because he is from a country that gives aid to Africa and therefore does not really understand what is really at stake in Africa. Jeffrey Sachs, Collier’s partner in the debate against foreign aid, said, “More foreign aid is needed to improve conditions for Africa”. He, like Collier, also believes that the answer to Africa’s problems is foreign aid and nothing else. It is as though all the Western countries that give aid believe that Africa may never develop, thus, aid is the only way they can get by in the many years to come. He also describes Moyo as “an African-born economist who… received scholarships so that she could go to Harvard and Oxford but sees nothing wrong with denying $10 in aid to an African child for an anti-malaria bed net.” 

Foreign aid has become an industry that NGOs, the West and Africa have bought into. There is also the issue of ‘Glamour aid’, which is the situation of Western celebrities having concerts and setting up charities all in the name of getting aid for specific issues in Africa. This, we believe, helps with their ticket sales. NGOs also stay around for longer than necessary because of the money that goes into the “Foreign aid industry” instead of training the people who are helping to become self-sufficient after a period of time. The western countries (especially the USA) involved in giving aid to Africa also seem to do this in order to gain support from the ethnic minorities in their country. This makes their government look good in the eyes of the citizens of their nation. There are times when Africa has become a reflection of the geo-politics that go on in the donor countries, since the aid is given with some conditions that meet the ideals of the donors. For example, with the issue of homosexuality in Africa, the west is trying to use the threat of cutting off aid to make these African countries that are blatantly against it succumb to their wishes, and this is the first time this has failed to be accomplished.

Finally, we believe Africa must get off the aid wagon sooner or later, because after all that money that has been put into the continent, there is nothing much to show for it.
instead we have to concentrate more on how to improve our manufacturing industries so as to trade on a better level with China and other Middle Eastern countries and not have these Westerners meddling in our business all the time.


Abugre, C. (2010, August 13). Why foreign aid is important for Africa. CNN African Voices.

Falsani, C. (2012, October 26). Ethiopia: how foreign aid has helped a generation. ONE.

Gordon, A. A., & Gordon, D. L. (2012). Understanding Contemporay Africa (Fifth ed.). Lynne Reinner Publishers, Incorporated.

Moyo, D. Dead Aid.

Africa is not Poor but Poorly Managed

Post By: Gloriel Addison and Emefa Opare Asamoah

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Just as I first look at the face of a person instinctively before looking down at their feet, the Top- Down approach allows to look at a problem right from the top to the bottom. Africa, for a long time has swam in the pools of poverty from surviving under $2 a day, poor health care facilities and the list goes on and till present is battling these same issues.  The pain in Africa’s neck severely affects the ordinary people who vote for leaders to assume positions to serve their needs as these leaders posed to deliver when in power. Instead, most of them care about what they will benefit if they hold high positions in our society .This point is not to start the argument whether the people vote the wrong people into office or not. We stand to critically look from the top; our leaders and speak to what is going on wrong that is failing to tackle the problem of poverty.

The African continent is endowed with many valuable resources in minerals and human resource. Almost all the 53 countries engage in international trade among others. Sadly, many of natural resources are exported in their unrefined state and command no extra economic value. You don’t need to be an economist to concur that resources as scarce. Soon, a lot of the gold and diamonds will get depleted. That not being scary enough, our leaders are far from efficiently allocating the national cake to where they should go. Why is that? Well……if you want to know….George Ayittey provides one answer….corruption. He creates the imagery of the “leaking bowls”. Until the holes are plugged we will cry out for help in our poor state. Monies sent to aid development from international bodies such as International Monetary Fund and World Bank are being “pocketed” rather than serve their purpose. For the benefit of the doubt, at times, some of the projects or agenda are partially completed. (“We have seen you”….in the voice of the lay man)

 Misplaced priorities of our leaders is a contributing factor to the wide spread mismanagement in Africa. A story is told of a town in Ghana in which the government official was accompanied by an entourage to inaugurate a few KVIP’S (i.e. public toilets). Would it not have benefited that community if the money used in fuelling the vehicles were used in building more KVIP’S. What do u think?

Do you sometimes wonder if our leaders even have the competencies to make decisions on our resources? We share the same sentiments. Until things like nepotism seize and placing the qualified in the right position, we will suffer from their actions of mismanagement. Indeed, we concur with those words…Africa is simply mismanaged.

Truly, it is not always about the leaders but also the citizens. We somewhat contribute to how some of our leaders act.  Though we realize that some of our leaders do not want to change, we have accepted anything they do whether good or bad.  We have to be active participants in our various countries. We have written about it, what can you do about it?  

Nelson Mandela said “poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be removed by the actions of human beings”….so is mismanagement of resources.  


Is it Aid or AIDS?

Africa, The continent people call home, has wept over the years  and is still crying today for the development of its people, sectors, government and communities. Far away from its “desert” land it sees the land of greens and wishes to be like that though in its presumed desert are hidden treasures of gold, diamond, oil, cocoa ; it has all it take to be a better green. The West, the green land can hear cries of the deserted and with much pity and love it flies of from the green give aid to make the desert a better desert. Though this seems to be the trend for more than an entire generation, the desert is no greener but instead, all oasis are drying up and life is becoming more unbearable. Therefore the million dollar question is; is it Aid or AIDS?

Foreign aid, a highly controversial topic in the African context, is the financial or material assistance received by a country from other countries, world organization and non-profit making organization with or without conditional ties. Over the years, Africa has strategically depended on the supposed benevolence of various countries in Europe for various purposes. The appeal of African government for aid is either to finance a budget deficit, provide public goods, solve epidemics and pandemics and rise to development from the detriment of wars. Africa has become the center of attraction for the aid industry. European government, the Bretton woods institutions and celebrities are tirelessly and rigorously seeking to help Africa with aid at every point in time to the extent that Africans are convinced about the necessity of aid on the continent.

It would be prejudicial and biased to assume and say that aid never ever benefited Africa in any way. In 1995, United Kingdom through aid helped to provide potable water to 78,000 people in Mozambique. Similarly, Ghana by declaring itself as a HIPC received about 2,000,210 cedis in aid to offset a huge chunk of its debt. Many humanitarian aid have fed starving citizenry in drought and war stricken countries in Africa with Somalia and Sudan being contemporary examples. Aid has helped to manage the greatest killer disease in Africa, Malaria through the provision of treated mosquito nets and anti-malarial medications. Though aid has seemly benefitted Africa, it is argued that it has done more harm than good hence accounting for Africa’s present stifled economy.

The AIDS of Foreign Aid

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The description of the hypothetical example of HIV/AIDS is not far from what we see as aids to Africa. When a person is infected with the hideous HIV, the virus gradually but steadily eats up the immune system of the body till it makes it completely dysfunctional, thus, unable to fight against diseases that attacks the body. At this stage, the person is pronounced to have contracted AIDS – a sure route to the grave. Similarly, the infiltration of aid into the African economy results in a joyous nodding by African government to the “free money” at their disposal. Already haunted down by the plague of non-accountability to their citizenry, mismanagement of the grants received becomes the norm thus breeding corruption; a canker which has overwhelmed African economies for ages. The concentration of capital and money in the hands of a few rich and influential persons widens the inequality gap in society. All these fight against the immunity of a country that is its economy and makes it weak; thus stifling productivity and making institution and systems ineffective. This culminates in a pathetic dependence on more aid; what we would like to call the “21st century colonialism”. At this state, the economy is pronounced to have contracted the hypothetical AIDS heading towards death – economic dysfunction and meltdown.

Is Aid really meant to help?

What stake does the West have in giving aid to Africa? Do you think that the west genuinely wants Africa to develop to their standard and even better? In Africa, all we can export is our raw mineral and agricultural resources at very low prices usually dictated by the West and after these resources are processed, buy them at completely exorbitant prices from the West. In such a situation what do you think a genuine desire to help would be? Is it to give aid to increase our raw material exports or to have a direct partnership or investment in Africa to groom the continent to export processed goods just like ‘they’ do? Apart from their reasoning that Africa are hopeless without aid, why is the West overly persistent in giving aid to Africa? We are just wondering; is aid meant to cause Africa to rise and be independent or to sit in despair and hope against hope for help from their neo-colonial master?

Africa, wean yourself from aid!

If aid, over the years has been unable to solve the harsh problems of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa then there must be a more suitable alternative available. According to Dambisa Moyo, the way forward to development in Africa is foreign direct investment and investment in capital market. (Moyo, 2012). We think that African government must gradually wean itself off aid to a point where it can stand absolutely as an economic giant without support or foreign aid. Our belief in gradual aid cut offs does not suggest that humanitarian aid in times of extreme desperation like natural disasters are included in the cut off list. Aid cuts willbreed necessity which will foster innovation by government on the continent to raise capital, effectively manage funds and build a stronger economy for its people. Aids received by Ghana  for example, can be practical teaching/directions tailored at providing effective Ghanaian developed mechanisms for agriculture, improving agro and mineral processing to add value to exports. Democratic reforms structured to form effective institutions and accountable governments would be a better foundation to great economic revolution. President Aboulaye Wade of Senegal once said “I’ve never seen a country develop itself through aid or credit. Countries that have developed — in Europe, America, Japan, Asian countries like Taiwan, Korea and Singapore — have all believed in free markets. There is no mystery there. Africa took the wrong road after independence.” (Ayodele, Cudjoe, Nolutshungu, & Sunwabe, 2005).

Does Africa need aid? If it does, for what? If for development, how long will it continue to need it? If it will need it forever, then is it really aid or dependence?

Moyo, D. (2009) Dead aid: why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa Vancouver: Douglas & Mcintyre.
Ayodele, T., Cudjoe, F., Nolutshungu, T. A. & Sunwabe, C. K. (2005). African Perspectives on Aid: Foreign Assistance Will Not Pull Africa Out of Poverty. Cato InstituteEconomic Development Bulletin. Retrieved 15 March 2014 from

Post by:

 Leticia Otubea Opoku and Dorcas Amoh Mensah

ChinAfrica: An Observer’s Perspective

China’s involvement with Africa is no big secret. As a matter of fact, it is an affair the West has attempted to hamper for a while now. Trade has been the main selling point of the Africa-China relation, and year after year, the total amount of trade between Africa and China increases astonishingly, from $10.5 billion in 2000 (Ighobor, 2013), to over $200 billion in 2013 (AFP, 2014). In 2009, China surpassed the US to become Africa’s leading trade partner, and it has not let go of the title since.


Relations between Africa and China exceed trade. Often, China provides aid to a needy Africa. Some view this aid as harmless, but not everyone follows that train of thought. In December 2011, the building of the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa was completed with the $200 million bill being paid for by China (Ighobor, 2013). The general feedback was not overwhelming thanks from all directions. Some referred to the building as an insult that symbolized how dependent Africa was to have its own AU headquarters be built by a foreign nation.

Africa-China relations range from trade, to culture, healthcare, military, and diplomacy, and Africa has often been warned – by nations such as the U.S.A undoubtedly – to tread carefully with China, for although China may be a rose by her side, she could very easily become a thorn. The Africa-China relationship has also been characterized as a new form of colonialism in which resources are easily taken out of a nation through bribery of leaders. (Ighobor, 2013) With relations between China and Africa becoming stronger day by day, who is to say what could become of it.

Personally, I prefer for Africa to keep an open mind and not just bend to the whims of any nation. Where the U.S.A has lost a foothold, China is gaining one. Chinese goods flood African markets, sometimes at the cost of local businesses, but in a continent that cares more for prices than for patriotism, it becomes almost an impossible task for local goods to compete with super cheap Chinese ones. Because of reasons like this, and others such as the language barrier, China’s gradual invasion of the African continent has not gone as smooth as possible. To curb some of these bumps on the road, the China Africa News service was launched in 2008 to bridge the information gap between Africa and China (Ighobor, 2013). Some saw this move instead, as a foothold for China to introduce its cultural values on Africa. Nonetheless, as a continent, Africa must not let the gifts of China cloud her judgement.

If China was a man, and Africa a woman, to put it in other terms, I would say it seems to me like China is running Africa. The occasional gifts here and there add a nice touch either to cover up mistakes, or show genuine affection. China’s interest in Africa has grown over the years, and the fact that that interest infuriates Africa’s ex, the West, adds a decent touch. China could just be a nice guy looking for a nice easy going lady, or a player looking for an easy girl. Either way, the play has been set. What China will do with its hold over Africa, only time will tell.


AFP. (2014, February 23). China-Africa trade surpassed $200 billion in 2013. New Vision. Retrieved from

Ighobor, K. (2013, January). China in the heart of Africa. Africa Renewal, 6. Retrieved from

Post by:

  • Nii Apa Anertey Abbey
  • Manuel Ocansey