According to a study carried out by the Swiss-African Business Circle and published in February, China remains the leading investor in Africa, with a volume of US$ 254.3 billion in 2021, maintaining its position unchanged for twelve years. It is followed by the United States, France and Turkey.
According to the Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, Zhao Zhiyuan, Addis Ababa’s exports to China have increased by 8%, while Chinese direct investment in the country has increased by 346%.
According to Beijing ambassador, these results represent the success of both the global BRI initiative (Belt and Road Initiative) and the regional FOCAC (Forum on China Africa Cooperation), thanks to which, over the last ten years, major projects have been launched for the construction of roads, railways, airports, ports, energy and telecommunications infrastructures.
Among the main elements in the development of cooperation between Africa and China, ambassador Zhao Zhiyuan listed the railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, which has made possible to significantly increase Ethiopian exports with the prospect of developing into a pan-African corridor ideally oriented towards reaching the port of Dakar on the Atlantic Ocean.
The general director of EDR (Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railways Share Company), Tilahun Sarka, at the same time stated that the railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti represents “a living example of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Africa”, inviting the governments of the countries involved in the future transit to reach the Atlantic shores to collaborate in pursuing the goal of a trans-African network.
The growth of China’s political and economic relations in Africa is, however, being viewed with growing concern by the United States which, especially in the East African region, has for some time now been taking widespread action to dissuade local governments from undertaking economic initiatives with Beijing at the risk of incurring a process of progressive debt unsustainability.
The recent sixth bilateral forum between the United States and Djibouti, held in Washington at the beginning of March and attended by Undersecretary for African Affairs Molly Phee and Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, should also be read in this light.
The topics discussed in the meeting had a wide-ranging interest in collaboration between the two countries, which included US concerns and fears over the presence of the Chinese naval base in the African port and the progressive growth of Chinese investment in the country.