China donated a US$140 million building to Zimbabwe that will become home to the country’s parliament. The gift is among the many grand projects designed by Beijing to deepen its influence on the continent

This 650-seat building constructed by the Shanghai Construction Group will replace the current parliament building structure of 100 seat capacity.  The building is set on northwest of the capital Harare as part of a new city. 

Aside from this recent parliament building donation, China has notably become Africa’s largest bilateral lender. It continues to pour billions of dollars into African countries for the building of roads and railways across Africa.  

“China is probably like the second biggest economy now in the world, a new player in the game. It’s all good and proper for China to participate in developing economies in Africa and fund the infrastructure, the ports, the buildings, roads, rail networks and Africa could use a little bit of help” says Dumi Jere, economist and Managing Partner at Talanta Co.

However these efforts by China to invest in Africa have not been mutually beneficial as part of the continent’s leaders feel like the country’s labor force is being left behind. “African governments are probably not negotiating enough, late Tanzanian President Magufuli had measures put in place.”

“At some point, you have to use local workers. I know some countries say you can’t operate unless you have a certain percentage of local partners.”

“Some countries just have open incentives, like just come do business however you are, as long as you bring in the money. But that takes away an opportunity to transfer skills to support and grow local industries that would probably have provided than you have everything imported in or everything actually bought into economies,” says Maggie Mutesi , Managing Editor Mansa Media.

What now remains as the major question is China Africa’s problem?  Or is it time for Africa to rethink about its gains from partnerships with China and the West also?  “Yes, it comes back to what does Africa want out of these partnerships? Ideally, I think the world is also realizing that Africa is a very big player in the global context. Africa currently has the biggest population which presents a good consumer base and market. Africa has so much to offer it’s just that we haven’t realized our competitive advantage. So we have to get them to work in our own favor, like what we want from them,” adds Maggie Mutesi

“African political leaders, are failing the continent by allowing continued plunder of assets and resources. Not negotiating the best terms for the deals, then again, sometimes when you’re negotiating from a point of no power, then it’s easy for people to dictate the terms on you, because you don’t have that much negotiating room.”

“My hope and prayer is that the AFCFTA will go a long way in negotiating good terms for everyone, reiterates Dumi Jere.

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