Financial support from China to African countries where Portuguese is the official language (PALOP) amounted to S$22.6 billion between 2000 and 2014, half of which was directed to Angola, according to Chinese official figures cited in a study published recently.
The study entitled “China and Japan’s foreign aid policies in elation to Lusophone Africa,” by academic researcher Pedro Amakasu Raposo, compares the development agendas of the two Asian powers in relation to the PALOP, considering they have become “more and more alike” with China “a serious contender.”
The figures presented by the researcher showed that during the period under review, official development assistance from China to Portuguese-speaking African countries was nearly US$11 billion, and Mozambique was the biggest beneficiary, with US$6.5 billion, followed by Angola (US$3.9 billion), Cabo Verde (Cape Verde – US$439 million) and Guinea-Bissau (US$126 million).
Other official financial flows, including official investment and foreign direct investment, amounting to about US$11.6 billion, of which US$9.8 billion was channelled to Angola, US$1.6 billion to Mozambique and US$130 million to Guinea-Bissau.
The different pattern in the Angolan and Mozambican cases, said Amakasu Raposo, is explained by the “Angola’s greater capacity to remunerate loans to China” and “also shows that Beijing is worried about debt sustainability in developing countries.”
At the same time, bilateral trade has increased, from US$1.64 billion to US$2.33 billion in the case of Mozambique, and trade with Angola amounted to US$35.94 billion in 2013.
In Japan’s case, development aid between 2000-2013 totalled US$1.9 billion, with US$1 billion to Mozambique, US$531 million to Angola, US$314 million for Cabo Verde, US$52 million for Guinea-Bissau and US$33 million to São Tomé and Príncipe.
According to the researcher, from Lusíada University (Portugal), the aid from both countries “is complementary” in nature: the Chinese aid “is more diverse,” whilst Japanese aid “is more focused on local projects and human security.”
China has been increasing social support, but economic infrastructure gets more attention than in the case of Japan, since “it is a way of promoting its development model through economic growth,” said the researcher who is a graduate of the Japanese universities of Okayama and Nanzan.
The Africa/Asia relationship “is uneven,” he said, but talk of “neo-colonialism” by China or Japan, is exaggerated and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) has started to correct the imbalance and the Chinese version, the Forum on China/Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) seems to be “more beneficial to the welfare of PALOP trade.”
The study published by the Institute of African Studies of German research centre GIGA, in collaboration with the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Hamburg University Press, concludes that the PALOP group is important to both Chinese and Japanese African policies, but the value of the resources of Angola and Mozambique is more “real”, making the other smaller PALOP countries “symbolic.”
“It seems that China is doing more than Japan to transform the perverse model of development aid in exchange for material resources,” said Amakasu Raposo, giving the example of support for tourism in Cabo Verde.
China is much more reliant on Africa to develop than Japan, he concludes. (macauhub/AO/CN/CV/GW/MZ/ST)