Young Africans speak: African countries like Ghana should be concerned with their debt to China

From Africans On China Ghana @ 62 Debate :

On Ghana’s 62nd '‘birthday’, a group of young Africans/Ghanaians met at a cozy library, Libreria, in a relatively unassuming neighborhood in the country’s capital, Africa, to debate a question at the heart of the nation’s evolving identity: Is Ghana, the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence, actually, FREE. Or, was it bonded to another power, say, China?

The Africans on China Ghana @62 debate, held in the style of Intelligence squared debates, commenced with a vote by the audience on whether they fell on the Affirmative or Negative side of this statement: African countries like Ghana should be concerned about their debt to China. They largely voted on the Affirmative. The two teams then had a chance to make their opening statements, ask each other questions, take questions from the audience, then finally submit their closing statements. The audience then voted again. The goal was to see if the debate would bring new perspective and light to the topic, thereby causing a shift in the audience perspective of the issue.

Below, we summarize the positions presented by the Affirmative and Negative sides. We also share the final vote. We are grateful to all who joined us for their passionate contributions to this space. We are especially grateful to three senior members in this dialogue: Charles Mawunyega, the founder of the China Ghana Graduates Association, Stephen Shum, the General Secretary of the Ghana China Chambers of Commerce, and H.E. Anani Demuyakor, the former Ghanaian Ambassador to China.


The Debate

Affirmative: Chairman of the Nkrumahist Circle, Amodani Gariba, and student of journalism, Samira Mohammed IBN MORO:

China is recognizing Africa, in other words satisfying the reasons put out by earlier colonialists for the colonization of Africa.

1. The need tap from Africa's huge reserve of resources for virtually free.

2. Need for market to sell manufactured goods from the colonizing country.

3. The investment of surplus capital in a virgin area.

China today mostly imports raw materials whilst it floods Africa's market with Chinese manufactured goods. The number of Chinese investment since 2000, has increased monumentally.

China is no longer a socialist country and this should be of great concern for African countries

When the Chinese say Socialism with Chinese characteristics, what its should be is Capitalism with Chinese characteristics.

The only relic of socialism in China is the communist party. Even that has been taken over by business tycoons.

Inequality in China is rife. The Gini coefficient for china is higher than that of the US. The social security net is poor.

Besides China spends about 5% of its GDP on health and 2% on education. In this regard, a lot of Sub-Saharan African countries are doing better than china in proportion.

China is not and cannot be father Christmas.

Chins has a disproportionately high Debt to GDP ratio hovering around 300%. The country is in debt.

China has a lot of mouths to feed having a fifth of the worlds population. The truth is that china does not have the Capacity to produce to meet demands at home.

China has an ageing population. This means more dependence whilst productivity takes a nose dive.

World war 3

Chinese president Xi Jinping told people liberation army to prepare for battle with the US. This war if fought would degenerate into a world war.

In lieu of this, we could see exponential increment in the military spending of china.

Already china spends more on its military than Russia, UK, France, and South Korea combined.

We believe that just as how Africa was very instrumental in the previous world war, it would also be very influential in deciding who wins this time. China is not oblivious to that. So it's trying to rope in Africa with the debt trap.

Free trade

The fact China is a champion of free trade is cause for worry. We know how free trade had virtually destroyed Africa's manufacturing sector since the 1980's. Africa needs industries that would be protected from the adversities of free trade. China cannot guarantee Africa that.

Ghana's sinohydro deal is skewed in favor of china and feeds in right into china one belt one road initiative. With the initiative china seeks to connect the world with infrastructure but it intends to finance the project itself.

For example the SGR in Kenya is project featured on the Belt and road initiative but the Kenyan government will be paying for it.


Negative: Assist. Lecturer of Economics at the University of Ghana, Legon, David Aduhene Tanoh, and Former President of the Students Studying Chinese Association at the University of Ghana, Legon, Sylvester Demuyakor:

1. China's financial aid in Africa is primarily into infrastructure and manufacturing(investment), which will in turn help generate revenue, foreign capital and employment.

2. Africa's dept burden isn't new. Even with the numerous dept reliefs like the HIPC initiative, the continent hasn't achieved the desired development.

3. African's dept to China debate should first relook at governance issues, because it isn't entirely about the borrowing but most importantly how the loans are used to facilitate development.

4. In a world of interdependence, countries must borrow to grow, and this is something that happens globally not just Africa or Ghana.

Where do you stand on the issue ? What was your initial beliefs and has it been swayed at all by the points presented.

Ultimately, the passionate crowd of largely young Africans maintained Affirmative stance: Yes, African countries like Ghana should be concerned about their debt to China!