China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Will it Make or Mar Development in the Central and West Africa Subregions?

William G. Dzekashu, Julius N. Anyu


The West, chiefly Europe, left political footmarks in Africa from the Colonial Era, along with varying economic footprints and surviving engagements in the immediate Post-colonial Era. However, the relationships between Africa and her former colonial masters have hardly yielded much to the former following the wave of independence, leading to the perception of failed relationships. This perception of failure to deliver on their undertakings has left Africa with only one option—China. The latter has been addressing some of Africa’s urgent infrastructure needs in return for natural resources and agricultural products. These engagements on the surface appear to be good business, but on further examination seem questionable notably as it relates to debt distress on vulnerable economies. To increase her footprint within the continent, China extended her Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to most African nations who have signed a memorandum of understanding for future development projects. Though the commitments usually are unspecified, China’s investments have seen rapid growth since the early 2000s, largely owing to the implementation of the BRI. The memoranda have had the potential to strengthen ties with partner nations. The expansion to include Africa in its economic participation in the BRI has left the West questioning China’s motives while reinforcing suspicions about possible future US-China conflict. The impact of BRI on the African continent is quite visible in all the subregions, especially in their improved gross domestic products. A burning question has been whether these partnerships represent win-win relationships for sustainable growth or debt-growth dynamics.

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