Increasing Chinese investment in everything from small food enterprises to massive railway projects across Africa has drawn criticism and warnings of a future dependency on Asia’s superpower.
But what do Africans themselves think about Chinese investors? Turns out, they love them.
According to a recent report by Afrobarometer, almost two-thirds (63%) of Africans say China’s influence is somewhat positive or very positive, while only 15% see it as somewhat or very negative.
“There is a negative narrative of China in Africa,” says Anyway Chingwete, co-author of the study and project manager at Afrobarometer and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa.
“But I believe ordinary citizens have a positive sentiment because of the contribution China has made to Africa.”
The attitudes vary from country to country, with people in Mali (92%), Niger (84%), and Liberia (81%) being particularly glad to have them around.
“This shows that African citizens are welcoming China’s involvement,” Chingwete adds.
Show me the money
It appears it’s not the Chinese culture or language Africans like best. It’s the potential financial investment China brings.
When asked which factors contributed most to China’s positive image, it was investment in infrastructure that came out on top.