Should African Governments Welcome Or Be Wary of Chinese Infrastructure Investment?

A China in Africa Podcast

The 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit was held in Beijing on September 3-4. Leaders from almost 50 African states attended to discuss everything from enhanced Sino-African military ties, health agreements, and academic exchanges. But one issue dominated coverage of the event: infrastructure.

China announced a U.S.$60 billion financing package for African states to build out new roads, airports, railways, and other needed infrastructure.

While no one questions the need for infrastructure, there are legitimate concerns as to whether it makes sense to borrow so much from China to pay for it.

Andrew Alli welcomes the Chinese to finance and build African infrastructure. Alli is the former CEO of the Africa Finance Corporation, a public-private development finance institution, where he oversaw $4.5 billion of investment across 30 African countries.

“Chinese infrastructure investment is no panacea and needs (like any other major project), to be managed very carefully, something that African governments and project sponsors have often proved incapable of doing well,” he said in a recent column on Quartz Africa. “But such investment is a useful addition to the slate of options available to Africans and should be welcomed as such.”

Alli joined Eric and Cobus before the FOCAC summit to discuss what African leaders attending the summit should think about when negotiating large financing packages for infrastructure development.