Grieve Chelwa wrote:The call to industrialise has been a rallying cry of African countries ever since their attainment of political independence. During the twentieth century, the modal decade of the continent’s national liberation struggles was the 1960s. Many within the first generation of post-colonial African leaders, from Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) to Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) to Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), had a deep appreciation for the role that industrialisation would play in the total emancipation of the African continent. These leaders grasped that Africa’s economic dependence was borne out of the original sins of imperialism and colonialism that consigned the continent to the position of perpetually supplying inexpensive raw materials to wealthy countries in exchange for expensive manufactures. Disrupting this colonial and imperial logic – that is, cutting the yoke of dependence – would require a structural re-orientation of African economies away from raw material production to industrial production. Additionally, industrialisation was viewed as the vehicle that would deliver a high level of employment and decent wages to a great mass of the population whose lives had been upended by colonialism and imperialism.
he African continent as a whole has not industrialised in any meaningful way over the last 60 years or so. The industrial level of many countries on the continent remains where it was at the time of political independence in the 1960s. Many have, in fact, de-industrialised. That is, the share of industry in their economic output is lower today than it was at the time of independence.
This inability to industrialise has had wide-ranging implications for the economic life of the African continent and its people. For example, real wages, which are often buttressed by industrial production, have declined and are lower today than they were in the 1970s. Additionally, over the last three decades the number of people living in poverty has declined in every region of the world except for Africa, where the opposite has taken place. In 1990, close to 300 million people lived in poverty in Africa. By 2020, that number had grown to 400 million and is likely to grow further in the current decade. Finally, the African continent is today more dependent on the rest of the world, especially the West, as a market for its primary commodities than at independence. Given China’s success at industrialisation and Africa’s struggles with it, there has curiously been a paucity of comparative scholarly work that seeks to draw out China’s lessons for Africa’s industrialisation. Even less has been work that considers whether China can be an effective ally in Africa’s hitherto elusive quest to industrialise.
It is this gap that the current issue of Wenhua Zongheng (文化纵横) seeks to fill. The two essays in this issue are written by leading Chinese scholars of comparative economic development.
The two articles are quite good, and detail the way China sees itself on the continent. Good for those trying to understand Chinese motivations and goals for the continent.
https://thetricontinental.org/wenhua-zo ... ontribute/
https://thetricontinental.org/wenhua-zo ... alisation/